Functional anatomy of visual search: Regional segregations within the frontal eye fields and effective connectivity of the superior colliculus

Darren R. Gitelman*, Todd B. Parrish, Karl J. Friston, M. Marsel Mesulam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Scopus citations

Abstract

The ability to find targets embedded within complex visual environments requires the dynamic programming of visuomotor search behaviors. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to image subjects while they visually searched for targets embedded among foils. Visuomotor search activated the posterior parietal cortex and the frontal eye fields. Both regions showed a greater number of activated voxels on the right, consistent with the known pattern of right hemispheric dominance for spatial attention. The superior colliculus showed prominent activation in the search versus eye movement contrast, demonstrating, for the first time in humans, activation of this region specifically related to an exploratory attentional contingency. An analysis of effective connectivity demonstrated that the search-dependent variance in the activity of the superior colliculus was significantly influenced by the activity in a network of cortical regions including the right frontal eye fields and bilateral parietal and occipital cortices. These experiments also revealed the presence of a mosaic of activated sites within the frontal eye field region wherein saccadic eye movements, covert shifts of attention, and visuomotor search elicited overlapping but not identical zones of activation. In contrast to the existing literature on functional imaging, which has focused on covert shifts of spatial attention, this study helps to characterize the functional anatomy of overt spatial exploration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)970-982
Number of pages13
JournalNeuroimage
Volume15
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

Keywords

  • Eye movements
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Occipital cortex
  • Parietal cortex
  • Spatial attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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