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Hemisphere-dependent attentional modulation of human parietal visual field representations.

  • Author(s): Sheremata, Summer L;
  • Silver, Michael A
  • et al.

Posterior parietal cortex contains several areas defined by topographically organized maps of the contralateral visual field. However, recent studies suggest that ipsilateral stimuli can elicit larger responses in the right than left hemisphere within these areas, depending on task demands. Here we determined the effects of spatial attention on the set of visual field locations (the population receptive field [pRF]) that evoked a response for each voxel in human topographic parietal cortex. A two-dimensional Gaussian was used to model the pRF in each voxel, and we measured the effects of attention on not only the center (preferred visual field location) but also the size (visual field extent) of the pRF. In both hemispheres, larger pRFs were associated with attending to the mapping stimulus compared with attending to a central fixation point. In the left hemisphere, attending to the stimulus also resulted in more peripheral preferred locations of contralateral representations, compared with attending fixation. These effects of attention on both pRF size and preferred location preserved contralateral representations in the left hemisphere. In contrast, attentional modulation of pRF size but not preferred location significantly increased representation of the ipsilateral (right) visual hemifield in right parietal cortex. Thus, attention effects in topographic parietal cortex exhibit hemispheric asymmetries similar to those seen in hemispatial neglect. Our findings suggest potential mechanisms underlying the behavioral deficits associated with this disorder.

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