Top-down versus bottom-up control of attention in the prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Science, Volume 315, Issue 5820, p.1860-2 (2007)


Action Potentials, Animals, attention, Electrophysiology, Frontal Lobe, Macaca mulatta, Male, Neurons, Parietal Lobe, Prefrontal Cortex, Reaction Time, Saccades


Attention can be focused volitionally by "top-down" signals derived from task demands and automatically by "bottom-up" signals from salient stimuli. The frontal and parietal cortices are involved, but their neural activity has not been directly compared. Therefore, we recorded from them simultaneously in monkeys. Prefrontal neurons reflected the target location first during top-down attention, whereas parietal neurons signaled it earlier during bottom-up attention. Synchrony between frontal and parietal areas was stronger in lower frequencies during top-down attention and in higher frequencies during bottom-up attention. This result indicates that top-down and bottom-up signals arise from the frontal and sensory cortex, respectively, and different modes of attention may emphasize synchrony at different frequencies.