Endogenous attention is the cognitive function that selects the relevant pieces of sensory information to achieve goals and it is known to be controlled by dorsal fronto-parietal brain areas. Here we expand this notion by identifying a control attention area located in the temporal lobe. By combining a demanding behavioral paradigm with functional neuroimaging and diffusion tractography, we show that like fronto-parietal attentional areas, the human posterior inferotemporal cortex exhibits significant attentional modulatory activity. This area is functionally distinct from surrounding cortical areas, and is directly connected to parietal and frontal attentional regions. These results show that attentional control spans three cortical lobes and overarches large distances through fiber pathways that run orthogonally to the dominant anterior-posterior axes of sensory processing, thus suggesting a different organizing principle for cognitive control.
Multimodal evidence suggests that brain regions accumulate information over timescales that vary according to anatomical hierarchy. Thus, these experimentally defined “temporal receptive windows” are longest in cortical regions that are distant from sensory input. Interestingly, spontaneous activity in these regions also plays out over relatively slow timescales (i.e., exhibits slower temporal autocorrelation decay). These findings raise the possibility that hierarchical timescales represent an intrinsic organizing principle of brain function. Here, using resting-state functional MRI, we show that the timescale of ongoing dynamics follows hierarchical spatial gradients throughout human cerebral cortex. These intrinsic timescale gradients give rise to systematic frequency differences among large-scale cortical networks and predict individual-specific features of functional connectivity. Whole-brain coverage permitted us to further investigate the large-scale organization of subcortical dynamics. We show that cortical timescale gradients are topographically mirrored in striatum, thalamus, and cerebellum. Finally, timescales in the hippocampus followed a posterior-to-anterior gradient, corresponding to the longitudinal axis of increasing representational scale. Thus, hierarchical dynamics emerge as a global organizing principle of mammalian brains.
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- p. 20890-20897
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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