Frontal-Sensory Cortical Projections Become Dispensable for Attentional Performance Upon a Reduction of Task Demand in Mice

Kevin J. Norman, Julia Bateh, Priscilla Maccario, Christina Cho, Keaven Caro, Tadaaki Nishioka, Hiroyuki Koike, Hirofumi Morishita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Top-down attention is a dynamic cognitive process that facilitates the detection of the task-relevant stimuli from our complex sensory environment. A neural mechanism capable of deployment under specific task-demand conditions would be crucial to efficiently control attentional processes and improve promote goal-directed attention performance during fluctuating attentional demand. Previous studies have shown that frontal top-down neurons projecting from the anterior cingulate area (ACA) to the visual cortex (VIS; ACAVIS) are required for visual attentional behavior during the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5CSRTT) in mice. However, it is unknown whether the contribution of these projecting neurons is dependent on the extent of task demand. Here, we first examined how behavior outcomes depend on the number of locations for mice to pay attention and touch for successful performance, and found that the 2-choice serial reaction time task (2CSRTT) is less task demanding than the 5CSRTT. We then employed optogenetics to demonstrate that suppression ACAVIS projections immediately before stimulus presentation has no effect during the 2CSRTT in contrast to the impaired performance during the 5CSRTT. These results suggest that ACAVIS projections are necessary when task demand is high, but once a task demand is lowered, ACAVIS neuron activity becomes dispensable to adjust attentional performance. These findings support a model that the frontal-sensory ACAVIS projection regulates visual attention behavior during specific high task demand conditions, pointing to a flexible circuit-based mechanism for promoting attentional behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number775256
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 11 Jan 2022


  • anterior cingulate cortex
  • attention
  • mouse
  • task-demand
  • top-down projection
  • visual cortex


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