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There are a number of neuroanatomical features that have been identified as playing a role in attention. These include:

Medial geniculate nucleusEdit

THe medial geniculate nucleus or medial geniculate body (MGB) is part of the auditory thalamus and represents the thalamic relay in the ascending auditory pathways between the inferior colliculus (IC) and the auditory cortex (AC). It is made up of a number of sub-nuclei that are distinguished by their neuronal morphology and density, by their afferent and efferent connections, and by and the coding properties of their neurons. It is thought that the MGB influences the direction and maintenance of attention.

Dorsal attention networkEdit

Main article: Dorsal attention network

The dorsal attention network (DAN) is one of two sensory orienting systems in the human brain. It is involved in voluntary (top-down) orienting and shows activity increases after presentation of cues indicating where, when, or to what subjects should direct their attention.

The dorsal attention network is bilateral and includes the intraparietal sulcus and the junction of the precentral and superior frontal sulcus (frontal eye fields) in each hemisphere.[1]

Ventral attention networkEdit

Main article: Ventral attention network

The ventral attention network (VAN) is one of two sensory orienting systems in the human brain, the other being the dorsal attention network. Its main function is to reorient attention towards salient stimuli. The VAN is considered to be involved mostly, if not entirely, in involuntary actions. The neural network is right hemisphere lateralized and includes the right temporal-parietal junction and the right ventral frontal cortex.[2] This system shows activity increases upon detection of salient targets, especially when they appear in unexpected locations.[3][4][5][6][7] Activity increases also are observed in the ventral system after abrupt changes in sensory stimuli,[8] at the onset and offset of task blocks,[9] and at the end of a completed trial.[10]

The ventral attention network is one of several low frequency resting state networks in the brain. The others include the dorsal attention network and the default network.[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. Fox, M.D., Corbetta, M., Snyder, A.Z., Vincent, J.L., & Raichle, M.E. (2006). Spontaneous neuronal activity distinguishes human dorsal and ventral attention systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103, 10046-10051.
  2. Fox, M.D., Corbetta, M., Snyder, A.Z., Vincent, J.L., & Raichle, M.E. (2006). Spontaneous neuronal activity distinguishes human dorsal and ventral attention systems. PNAS, 103, 10046-10051.
  3. Posner, M. I. & Petersen, S. E. (1990). Annual Review of Neuroscience, 13, 25–42.
  4. Corbetta, M., Kincade, J. M., Ollinger, J. M., McAvoy, M. P. & Shulman, G. L. (2000). Nature Neuroscience, 3, 292–297.
  5. Astafiev, S. V., Shulman, G. I., Stanley, C. M., Snyder, A. Z., Van Essen, D. C. & Corbetta, M. (2003). Journal of Neuroscience, 23, 4689–4699.
  6. Ast afiev, S. V., St anley, C. M., Shulman, G. L. & Corbetta, M. (2004) Nature Neuroscience, 7, 542–548.
  7. Kincade, J. M., Abrams, R. A., Astafiev, S. V., Shulman, G. I. & Corbetta, M. (2005). Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 4593– 4604.
  8. Downar, J., Crawley, A. P., Mikulis, D. J. & Dav is, K. D. (2000) Nature Neuroscience, 3, 277–283.
  9. Fox, M. D., Snyder, A. Z., Barch, D. M., Gusnard, D. A. & Raichle, M. E. (2005). NeuroImage, 28, 956–966.
  10. Shulman, G. I., Tansy, A. P., Kincade, M., Petersen, S. E., McAvoy, M. P. & Corbetta, M. (2002). Cerebral Cortex, 12, 590–600.
  11. Broyd SJ, Demanuele C, Debener S, Helps SK, James CJ, Sonuga-Barke EJS (2009). Default-mode brain dysfunction in mental disorders: a systematic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 33 (3): 279–96.

Further readingEdit

  • Itti L, Rees G, Tsotsos J. (Eds) The Neurobiology of Attention. Academic Press (2005). ISBN 0-12-375731-2

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