Effective Connectivity During Feature-Based Attentional Capture: Evidence Against the Attentional Reorienting Hypothesis of TPJ

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The most prevalent neurobiological theory of attentional control posits 2 distinct brain networks: The dorsal and ventral attention networks. The role of the dorsal attentional network in top-down attentional control is well established, but there is less evidence for the putative role of the ventral attentional network in initiating stimulus-driven reorienting. Here, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging and dynamic causal modeling (DCM) to test the role of the ventral and dorsal networks in attentional reorienting during instances of attentional capture by a target-colored distracter. In the region of interest analyses, we found that frontal eye field (FEF) was selectively activated by conditions where attention was reoriented (i.e. to spatial cues and target-colored distracters). In contrast, temporoparietal junction (TPJ) responded positively to all stimulus conditions. The DCM results indicated that FEF received sensory inputs earlier than TPJ, and that only the connection from FEF to TPJ was modulated by the appearance of the target-colored distracter. The results provide novel empirical evidence against the idea that TPJ generates stimulus-driven reorientations of attention. We conclude that our results are incompatible with existing theories of TPJ involvement in the stimulus-driven reorientation of attention and discuss alternative explanations such as contextual updating.

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