4 T-fMRI study of nonspatial shifting of selective attention: Cerebellar and parietal contributions

Tuong Huu Le, José V. Pardo, Xiaoping Hu

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297 Scopus citations


Regional blood oxygenation in the cerebellum and posterior cerebral cortices was monitored with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at four Tesla while 16 norma/subjects performed three tasks with identical visual stimulation: fixation; attention focused upon either stimulus shape or color and sustained during blocks of trials (sustained attention); and rapid, serial shifts in attention between stimulus shape or color within blocks of trials (shifting attention). The stimuli were displayed centrally for 100 ms followed by a central fixation mark for 900 ms. Each stimulus was either a circle or a square displayed in either red or green. Attention shifting required Switching between color and shape information after each target detection and occurred on average once every three seconds. Subjects pressed a response key upon detecting the target; reaction time and response accuracy were recorded. Two protocols for T2*-weighted echo-planar imaging were optimized, one with a surface coil for the cerebellum alone and the other with a volume coil for imaging both cerebellum and posterior brain structures (parietal, occipital, and part of temporal cortices). Because fMRI of the cerebellum is particularly susceptible to cardiac and respiratory fluctuations, novel techniques were applied to isolate brain activation signals from physiological noise. Functional activation maps were generated for contrasts of 1) sustained attention to color minus fixation; 2) sustained attention to shape minus fixation; and 3) shifting attention minus sustained attention (to color and shape; i.e., summed across blocks of trials). Consistent with the ease of these tasks, subjects performed with >80% accuracy during both sustained attention and shifting attention. Analysis of variance did not show significant differences in false alarms or true hits across either attentional condition. A subgroup of subjects whose performance data were recorded during ten minutes of continuous practice did not show significant changes over time. Both contrasts between the conditions of sustained attention to color or to shape as compared with the fixation condition showed significant bilateral activation in occipital and inferior temporal regions (Brodmann areas 18, 19, and 37). The anterior medial cerebellum was also significantly activated ipsilateral to the finger used for responding. The principal comparison of interest, the contrast between the condition of shifting attention and the condition of sustained attention produced significant and reproducible activation: lateral cerebellar hemisphere (ansiform lobule: Crus I Anterior and Crus I Posterior; left Crus I Posterior); cerebellar folium; posterior superior parietal lobule (R and L); and cuneus and precuneus (R and L).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1535-1548
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998


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