Frontoparietal cortex controls spatial attention through modulation of anticipatory alpha rhythms.

Research paper by Paolo P Capotosto, Claudio C Babiloni, Gian Luca GL Romani, Maurizio M Corbetta

Indexed on: 08 May '09Published on: 08 May '09Published in: The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience


A dorsal frontoparietal network, including regions in intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and frontal eye field (FEF), has been hypothesized to control the allocation of spatial attention to environmental stimuli. One putative mechanism of control is the desynchronization of electroencephalography (EEG) alpha rhythms (approximately 8-12 Hz) in visual cortex in anticipation of a visual target. We show that brief interference by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) with preparatory activity in right IPS or right FEF while subjects attend to a spatial location impairs identification of target visual stimuli approximately 2 s later. This behavioral effect is associated with the disruption of anticipatory (prestimulus) alpha desynchronization and its spatially selective topography in parieto-occipital cortex. Finally, the disruption of anticipatory alpha rhythms in occipital cortex after right IPS- or right FEF-rTMS correlates with deficits of visual identification. These results support the causal role of the dorsal frontoparietal network in the control of visuospatial attention, and suggest that this is partly exerted through the synchronization of occipital visual neurons.