Top-down attention affects even the early stages of visual processing. For example, several studies have reported that instructions prior to the presentation of visual stimuli can both enhance and reduce visual masking. The finding that top-down processing influences perceptual processing is called the attentional effect. However, the magnitude of the attentional effect differs between individuals, and how these differences relate to brain activation remains to be explained. One possibility would be that activation intensity predicts the magnitude of the attentional effect. Another possible explanation would be that effective connectivity among activated areas determines the attentional effect. In the present study, we used structural equation modeling to analyze individual differences in the attentional effect on visual masking, in relation to the signal and connectivity strength of activated brain regions prior to presentation of the visual stimuli. The results showed that signal intensity was positively correlated with attentional effect in the occipital areas, but not in fronto-parietal areas, and the effect was also positively correlated with connective efficiency from the right intraparietal sulcus (IPS) to the bilateral fusiform gyrus (GF). Furthermore, a higher degree of effective connections from the right IPS to the GF led to greater neural activity in the GF. We therefore propose that the effective modulator in the parietal areas and strong activation in the visual areas together and in cooperation predict higher attentional effects in visual processing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience