Structures and Functions of Selective Attention.
Technical rept. 1 May 87-1 May 88,
WASHINGTON UNIV ST LOUIS MO DEPT OF NEUROLOGY
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A principle problem of neuropsychology is to relate the neural structures damaged in traumatic brain injury with their functions in the cognitive tasks of daily life. This lecture reviews evidence that elementary operations of cognition as defined by cognitive studies are the level at which the brain localizes its computations. Orienting of visual attention is used as a model task. The component facilitations and inhibitions in visual orienting are related to neural systems through the study of focal neurological lesions. Visual orienting is a part of a more general selective attention system that also involves orienting to language. Our ability to be aware of and to act upon target events depends upon the connections of posterior orienting these pathways in studies of focal changes in cerebral blood flow during performance of language tasks. Although we do not have a general analysis of the mental operations performed by these anterior systems, there is some evidence relating the dorsolateral prefrontal and areas of the medial surface to aspects of focal selection. One way to study the generality of the attentional system developed in this lecture is to examine putative deficits of attention in disorders such as schizophrenia, depression and closed head injury where the organic basis for the deficit is largely unknown. Our preliminary studies of schizophrenia are used to support the utility of the joint functional and structural analysis proposed here.
- WOUNDS AND INJURIES
- BLOOD CIRCULATION
- MENTAL ABILITY
- BRAIN DAMAGE
- NERVOUS SYSTEM
- Medicine and Medical Research