In visual search, the presence of a salient, yet task-irrelevant, distractor in the stimulus array interferes with target selection and slows down performance. Neuroimaging data point to a key role of the frontoparietal dorsal attention network in dealing with visual distractors; however, the respective roles of different nodes within the network and their hemispheric specialization are still unresolved. Here, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to evaluate the causal role of two key regions of the dorsal attention network in resisting attentional capture by a salient singleton distractor: the frontal eye field (FEF) and the cortex within the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The task of the participants (male/female human volunteers) was to discriminate the pointing direction of a target arrow while ignoring a task-irrelevant salient distractor. Immediately after stimulus onset, triple-pulse 10 Hz TMS was delivered either to IPS or FEF on either side of the brain. Results indicated that TMS over the right FEF significantly reduced the behavioral cost engendered by the salient distractor relative to left FEF stimulation. No such effect was obtained with stimulation of IPS on either side of brain. Interestingly, this FEF-dependent reduction in distractor interference interacted with the contingent trial history, being maximal when no distractor was present on the previous trial relative to when there was one. Our results provide direct causal evidence that the right FEF houses key mechanisms for distractor filtering, pointing to a pivotal role of the frontal cortex of the right hemisphere in limiting interference from an irrelevant but attention-grabbing stimulus.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Visually conspicuous stimuli attract our attention automatically and interfere with performance by diverting resources away from the main task. Here, we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation over four frontoparietal cortex locations (frontal eye field and intraparietal sulcus in each hemisphere) to identify regions of the dorsal attention network that help limit interference from task-irrelevant, salient distractors. Results indicate that the right FEF participates in distractor-filtering mechanisms that are recruited when a distracting stimulus is encountered. Moreover, right FEF implements adjustments in distraction-filtering mechanisms following recent encounters with distractors. Together, these findings indicate a different hemispheric contribution of the left versus right dorsal frontal cortex to distraction filtering. This study expands our understanding of how our brains select relevant targets in the face of task-irrelevant, salient distractors.

Lega, C., Ferrante, O., Marini, F., Santandrea, E., Cattaneo, L., Chelazzi, L. (2019). Probing the neural mechanisms for distractor filtering and their history-contingent modulation by means of TMS. THE JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 39(38), 7591-7603 [10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2740-18.2019].

Probing the neural mechanisms for distractor filtering and their history-contingent modulation by means of TMS

Lega, Carlotta
Primo
;
Marini, Francesco;
2019

Abstract

In visual search, the presence of a salient, yet task-irrelevant, distractor in the stimulus array interferes with target selection and slows down performance. Neuroimaging data point to a key role of the frontoparietal dorsal attention network in dealing with visual distractors; however, the respective roles of different nodes within the network and their hemispheric specialization are still unresolved. Here, we used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to evaluate the causal role of two key regions of the dorsal attention network in resisting attentional capture by a salient singleton distractor: the frontal eye field (FEF) and the cortex within the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The task of the participants (male/female human volunteers) was to discriminate the pointing direction of a target arrow while ignoring a task-irrelevant salient distractor. Immediately after stimulus onset, triple-pulse 10 Hz TMS was delivered either to IPS or FEF on either side of the brain. Results indicated that TMS over the right FEF significantly reduced the behavioral cost engendered by the salient distractor relative to left FEF stimulation. No such effect was obtained with stimulation of IPS on either side of brain. Interestingly, this FEF-dependent reduction in distractor interference interacted with the contingent trial history, being maximal when no distractor was present on the previous trial relative to when there was one. Our results provide direct causal evidence that the right FEF houses key mechanisms for distractor filtering, pointing to a pivotal role of the frontal cortex of the right hemisphere in limiting interference from an irrelevant but attention-grabbing stimulus.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Visually conspicuous stimuli attract our attention automatically and interfere with performance by diverting resources away from the main task. Here, we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation over four frontoparietal cortex locations (frontal eye field and intraparietal sulcus in each hemisphere) to identify regions of the dorsal attention network that help limit interference from task-irrelevant, salient distractors. Results indicate that the right FEF participates in distractor-filtering mechanisms that are recruited when a distracting stimulus is encountered. Moreover, right FEF implements adjustments in distraction-filtering mechanisms following recent encounters with distractors. Together, these findings indicate a different hemispheric contribution of the left versus right dorsal frontal cortex to distraction filtering. This study expands our understanding of how our brains select relevant targets in the face of task-irrelevant, salient distractors.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
distractor filtering dorsal attentional network, transcranial magnetic stimulation, frontal eye field (FEF), intraparietal sulcus (IPS)
English
6-ago-2019
2019
39
38
7591
7603
none
Lega, C., Ferrante, O., Marini, F., Santandrea, E., Cattaneo, L., Chelazzi, L. (2019). Probing the neural mechanisms for distractor filtering and their history-contingent modulation by means of TMS. THE JOURNAL OF NEUROSCIENCE, 39(38), 7591-7603 [10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2740-18.2019].
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/240893
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