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Connections between intraparietal sulcus and a sensorimotor network underpin sustained tactile attention

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Goltz,  Dominique
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Institute of Psychology, University of Leipzig, Germany;
Department of Systems Neuroscience, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany;

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Gundlach,  Christopher
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Institute of Psychology, University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Nierhaus,  Till
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;
Neurocomputation and Neuroimaging Unit, FU Berlin, Germany;

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Villringer,  Arno
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Pleger,  Burkhard
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Clinic for Cognitive Neurology, University of Leipzig, Germany;

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Citation

Goltz, D., Gundlach, C., Nierhaus, T., Villringer, A., Müller, M., & Pleger, B. (2015). Connections between intraparietal sulcus and a sensorimotor network underpin sustained tactile attention. The Journal of Neuroscience, 35(20), 7938-7949. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3421-14.2015.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-3248-0
Abstract
Previous studies on sustained tactile attention draw conclusions about underlying cortical networks by averaging over experimental conditions without considering attentional variance in single trials. This may have formed an imprecise picture of brain processes underpinning sustained tactile attention. In the present study, we simultaneously recorded EEG-fMRI and used modulations of steady-state somatosensory evoked potentials (SSSEPs) as a measure of attentional trial-by-trial variability. Therefore, frequency-tagged streams of vibrotactile stimulations were simultaneously presented to both index fingers. Human participants were cued to sustain attention to either the left or right finger stimulation and to press a button whenever they perceived a target pulse embedded in the to-be-attended stream. In-line with previous studies, a classical general linear model (GLM) analysis based on cued attention conditions revealed increased activity mainly in somatosensory and cerebellar regions. Yet, parametric modeling of the BOLD response using simultaneously recorded SSSEPs as a marker of attentional trial-by-trial variability quarried the intraparietal sulcus (IPS). The IPS in turn showed enhanced functional connectivity to a modality-unspecific attention network. However, this was only revealed on the basis of cued attention conditions in the classical GLM. By considering attentional variability as captured by SSSEPs, the IPS showed increased connectivity to a sensorimotor network, underpinning attentional selection processes between competing tactile stimuli and action choices (press a button or not). Thus, the current findings highlight the potential value by considering attentional variations in single trials and extend previous knowledge on the role of the IPS in tactile attention.