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Ventral attention network

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The ventral attention network (VAN) is one of two sensory orienting systems in the human brain, the other being the dorsal attention network (DAN). 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[1]. This system shows activity increases upon detection of salient targets, especially when they appear in unexpected locations[2][3][4][5][6]. Activity increases also are observed in the ventral system after abrupt changes in sensory stimuli[7], at the onset and offset of task blocks[8], and at the end of a completed trial[9].


  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. PNAS, 103, 10046-10051.
  2. Posner, M. I. & Petersen, S. E. (1990). Annual Review of Neuroscience, 13, 25–42.
  3. Corbetta, M., Kincade, J. M., Ollinger, J. M., McAvoy, M. P. & Shulman, G. L. (2000). Nature Neuroscience, 3, 292–297.
  4. 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.
  5. Ast afiev, S. V., St anley, C. M., Shulman, G. L. & Corbetta, M. (2004) Nature Neuroscience, 7, 542–548.
  6. Kincade, J. M., Abrams, R. A., Astafiev, S. V., Shulman, G. I. & Corbetta, M. (2005). Journal of Neuroscience, 25, 4593– 4604.
  7. Downar, J., Crawley, A. P., Mikulis, D. J. & Dav is, K. D. (2000) Nature Neuroscience, 3, 277–283.
  8. Fox, M. D., Snyder, A. Z., Barch, D. M., Gusnard, D. A. & Raichle, M. E. (2005). NeuroImage, 28, 956–966.
  9. Shulman, G. I., Tansy, A. P., Kincade, M., Petersen, S. E., McAvoy, M. P. & Corbetta, M. (2002). Cerebral Cortex, 12, 590–600.

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