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Creators/Authors contains: "Freiwald, Winrich A."

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  1. Abstract

    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.

  2. Classical studies of attention have identified areas of parietal and frontal cortex as sources of attentional control. Recently, a ventral region in the macaque temporal cortex, the posterior infero-temporal dorsal area PITd, has been suggested as a third attentional control area. This raises the question of whether and how spatially distant areas coordinate a joint focus of attention. Here we tested the hypothesis that parieto-frontal attention areas and PITd are directly interconnected. By combining functional MRI with ex-vivo high-resolution diffusion MRI, we found that PITd and dorsal attention areas are all directly connected through three specific fascicles. These results ascribe a new function, the communication of attention signals, to two known fiber-bundles, highlight the importance of vertical interactions across the two visual streams, and imply that the control of endogenous attention, hitherto thought to reside in macaque dorsal cortical areas, is exerted by a dorso-ventral network.
  3. Abstract

    How the brain preserves information about multiple simultaneous items is poorly understood. We report that single neurons can represent multiple stimuli by interleaving signals across time. We record single units in an auditory region, the inferior colliculus, while monkeys localize 1 or 2 simultaneous sounds. During dual-sound trials, we find that some neurons fluctuate between firing rates observed for each single sound, either on a whole-trial or on a sub-trial timescale. These fluctuations are correlated in pairs of neurons, can be predicted by the state of local field potentials prior to sound onset, and, in one monkey, can predict which sound will be reported first. We find corroborating evidence of fluctuating activity patterns in a separate dataset involving responses of inferotemporal cortex neurons to multiple visual stimuli. Alternation between activity patterns corresponding to each of multiple items may therefore be a general strategy to enhance the brain processing capacity, potentially linking such disparate phenomena as variable neural firing, neural oscillations, and limits in attentional/memory capacity.