INB-3 AG Kognitive Neurologie, Research Centre Jülich, Germany.
Endogenous control of visual search can influence search guidance at the level of a supradimensional topographic saliency map [Wolfe, J. M. Guided Search 2.0: A revised model of visual search. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 1, 202-238, 1994], and modulate nonspatial mechanisms coding saliency in dimension-specific input modules [Müller, H. J., Reimann, B., & Krummenacher, J. Visual search for singleton feature targets across dimensions: Stimulus- and expectancy-driven effects in dimensional weighting. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 29, 1021-1035, 2003]. The current experiment used fMRI to dissociate these mechanisms in a singleton feature search task in which the likely target dimension (color or orientation) was semantically precued and target saliency in each dimension was varied parametrically. BOLD signal increases associated with increased demands for top-down guidance were observed within the fronto-parietal attention network and in the right anterior middle frontal gyrus. Decreasing requirements for top-down control led to BOLD signal increases in medial anterior prefrontal cortex, consistent with a gating mechanism in favor of stimulus-related processing [Burgess, P. W., Dumontheil, I., & Gilbert, S. J. The gateway hypothesis of rostral prefrontal cortex (area 10) function. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 290-298, 2007]. Another network of brain areas consisting of left lateral fronto-polar cortex, the left supramarginal gyrus, and the cerebellum, as well as a bilateral network consisting of the posterior orbital gyrus, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the pre-SMA were associated with top-down dimensional (re-) orienting. These data argue in favor of distinct endogenous control systems for visuospatial and dimension-based attentional processing. Finally, cue validity modulated saliency processing in the left temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), pointing to a crucial role of the left TPJ in integrating an endogenous dimension-based attention set with bottom-up saliency signals.