Neuronal synchronization along the dorsal visual pathway reflects the focus of spatial attention

Markus Siegel, Tobias H Donner, Robert Oostenveld, Pascal Fries, Andreas K Engel
Neuron 2008 November 26, 60 (4): 709-19
Oscillatory neuronal synchronization, within and between cortical areas, may mediate the selection of attended visual stimuli. However, it remains unclear at and between which processing stages visuospatial attention modulates oscillatory synchronization in the human brain. We thus combined magnetoencephalography (MEG) in a spatially cued motion discrimination task with source-reconstruction techniques and characterized attentional effects on neuronal synchronization across key stages of the human dorsal visual pathway. We found that visuospatial attention modulated oscillatory synchronization between visual, parietal, and prefrontal cortex in a spatially selective fashion. Furthermore, synchronized activity within these stages was selectively modulated by attention, but with markedly distinct spectral signatures and stimulus dependence between regions. Our data indicate that regionally specific oscillatory synchronization at most stages of the human dorsal visual pathway may enhance the processing of attended visual stimuli and suggest that attentional selection is mediated by frequency-specific synchronization between prefrontal, parietal, and early visual cortex.

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