Human brain mechanisms subserving attention have been assigned to prefrontal, midfrontal, and posterior parietal cortices, as well as to the anterior cingulate and the thalamus. To map these mechanisms in the brain, most studies have used selective attention tasks; few studies have mapped the brain under sustained or divided attention. The present study was designed to create maps of regional activity associated with sustained and divided attention using two different sensory modalities: visual checkerboard stimulation and vibrotactile stimulation of the right hand. Five cerebral PE- tomograms of 15O-labeled water uptake were acquired from 16 elderly healthy subjects during sustained or divided attention to the frequency of stimulation. To locate active brain regions, the t-statistic map of relative changes in cerebral blood flow was coregistered to the subjects' averaged brain MR images and to the standard Talairach brain coordinate system. Attention was associated with activity in two sites, the right middle frontal gyrus (Brodmann area 46) and the right inferior parietal lobule (Brodmann area 40). The frontal site was more active when the subjects attended to the visual stimulus and when the attention was divided, while the parietal site was more active during attention to the vibrotactile stimulus and during simple sustained attention. Our observations are consistent with the hypotheses (1) that the right posterior parietal attention center subserves attention to several sensory modalities and (2) that a cortical network of specific neuronal sites subserves both sustained and divided attention. These hypotheses must be tested in further studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience