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New approach to imaging separates thought from perception

tal cortex," Shulman says. "So our best guess is that this area holds the instructions."

The researchers also applied their technique to studying the brain's response when a location in space, rather than a direction of motion, was cued. When the subjects were waiting for something to appear in the left visual field, both the left and right posterior parietal regions were activated. But when the object actually appeared at that location, a more ventral parietal region on the right side of the brain became activated. That activation was even stronger when the object appeared on the right but the subjects were expecting it on the left.

This finding may be relevant to stroke patients who have damage to the right ventral parietal region. Such patients often are unable to attend to objects in the left side of the visual field. The Washington University experiments support previous suggestions that the right ventral parietal region may help redirect attention to any place where novel information appears.

"This research sheds light on the causes of attentional deficits after brain injury and could be used to develop new rehabilitation strategies," Corbetta says. "Information about the neural mechanisms of visual attention also may provide insight into the neural mechanisms of awareness, our inner experience of the visual world."

Grants from the National Institutes of Health, the McDonnell Center for Higher Brain Function and the Charles A. Dana Foundation supported this research.

Shulman GL, Ollinger JM, Akbudak E, Conturo TE, Snyder AZ, Petersen SE, Corbetta M. Areas involved in encoding and applying directional expectations to moving objects. Journal of Neuroscience, November 1999.


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Contact: Linda Sage
sage@medicine.wustl.edu
314-286-0119
Washington University School of Medicine
23-Oct-1999


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