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Spatial attention changes excitability of human visual cortex to direct stimulation

Bestmann, S; Ruff, CC; Blakemore, C; Driver, J; Thilo, KV; (2007) Spatial attention changes excitability of human visual cortex to direct stimulation. CURR BIOL , 17 (2) 134 - 139. 10.1016/j.cub.2006.11.063. Gold open access

Abstract

Conscious perception depends not only on sensory input, but also on attention [1, 2]. Recent studies in monkeys [3-6] and humans [7-12] suggest that influences of spatial attention on visual awareness may reflect top-down influences on excitability of visual cortex. Here we tested this specifically, by providing direct input into human visual cortex via cortical trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to produce illusory visual percepts, called phosphenes. We found that a lower TMS intensity was needed to elicit a conscious phosphene when its apparent spatial location was attended, rather than unattended. Our results indicate that spatial attention can enhance visual-cortex excitability, and visual awareness, even when sensory signals from the eye via the thalamic pathway are bypassed.

Type: Article
Title: Spatial attention changes excitability of human visual cortex to direct stimulation
Open access status: An open access publication
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.11.063
Publisher version: http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/17240338
Keywords: TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION, LATERAL GENICULATE-NUCLEUS, HUMAN OCCIPITAL CORTEX, CORTICAL AREAS, SUPPRESSION, AWARENESS, BRAIN, MODULATION, THRESHOLD, RESPONSES
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Movement Neurosciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/146226
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