Testing the behavioral interaction and integration of attentional networks

Jin Fan, Xiaosi Gu, Kevin G. Guise, Xun Liu, John Fossella, Hongbin Wang, Michael I. Posner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

322 Scopus citations

Abstract

One current conceptualization of attention subdivides it into functions of alerting, orienting, and executive control. Alerting describes the function of tonically maintaining the alert state and phasically responding to a warning signal. Automatic and voluntary orienting are involved in the selection of information among multiple sensory inputs. Executive control describes a set of more complex operations that include detecting and resolving conflicts in order to control thoughts or behaviors. Converging evidence supports this theory of attention by showing that each function appears to be subserved by anatomically distinct networks in the brain and differentially innervated by various neuromodulatory systems. Although much research has been dedicated to understanding the functional separation of these networks in both healthy and disease states, the interaction and integration among these networks still remain unclear. In this study, we aimed to characterize possible behavioral interaction and integration in healthy adult volunteers using a revised attention network test (ANT-R) with cue-target interval and cue validity manipulations. We found that whereas alerting improves overall response speed, it exerts negative influence on executive control under certain conditions. A valid orienting cue enhances but an invalid cue diminishes the ability of executive control to overcome conflict. The results support the hypothesis of functional integration and interaction of these brain networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-220
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and Cognition
Volume70
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Keywords

  • Alerting
  • Attention
  • Attentional networks
  • Executive control
  • Orienting

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