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Spatial attention changes excitability of human visual cortex to direct stimulation


Bestmann, S; Ruff, Christian C; Blakemore, C; Driver, J; Thilo, K V (2007). Spatial attention changes excitability of human visual cortex to direct stimulation. Current Biology, 17(2):134-139.

Abstract

Conscious perception depends not only on sensory input, but also on attention [1, 2]. Recent studies in monkeys [3-6] and humans [7-12] suggest that influences of spatial attention on visual awareness may reflect top-down influences on excitability of visual cortex. Here we tested this specifically, by providing direct input into human visual cortex via cortical transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to produce illusory visual percepts, called phosphenes. We found that a lower TMS intensity was needed to elicit a conscious phosphene when its apparent spatial location was attended, rather than unattended. Our results indicate that spatial attention can enhance visual-cortex excitability, and visual awareness, even when sensory signals from the eye via the thalamic pathway are bypassed.

Conscious perception depends not only on sensory input, but also on attention [1, 2]. Recent studies in monkeys [3-6] and humans [7-12] suggest that influences of spatial attention on visual awareness may reflect top-down influences on excitability of visual cortex. Here we tested this specifically, by providing direct input into human visual cortex via cortical transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to produce illusory visual percepts, called phosphenes. We found that a lower TMS intensity was needed to elicit a conscious phosphene when its apparent spatial location was attended, rather than unattended. Our results indicate that spatial attention can enhance visual-cortex excitability, and visual awareness, even when sensory signals from the eye via the thalamic pathway are bypassed.

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56 citations in Web of Science®
58 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
08 University Research Priority Programs > Foundations of Human Social Behavior: Altruism and Egoism
Dewey Decimal Classification:170 Ethics
330 Economics
Language:English
Date:2007
Deposited On:26 Oct 2011 07:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:03
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0960-9822
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2006.11.063
PubMed ID:17240338
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-50213

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