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CCN Brown Bag Series

Wednesday, January 31, 2018,

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  • Location: Wilson Hall • 111 21St Ave S • Nashville, TN 37240
  • Room: 115

René Marois, PhD

Department of Psychology

Vanderbilt University

Convergent Brain Functional Network Connectivity Changes in Attention Capture and Awareness

Attention is often extolled for its selective neural properties. Yet, when powerfully captured by a salient, unexpected 'oddball' event, attention can give rise to a broad cascade of systemic effects for evaluating and adaptively responding to the event. Using graph theory analysis combined with fMRI, here we tested the hypothesis that the extensive psychophysiological and cognitive changes associated with such attention capture are related to large-scale, distributed changes in the brain’s functional connectivity. Consistent with this hypothesis, salient task-irrelevant ‘oddball’ stimuli presented during the performance of a target-search task triggered widespread increases in the functional integration of the brain's neural networks that habituated with repeated oddball presentations, mirroring the behavioral profile. Strikingly, the main functional connectivity changes observed here – degradation of the modularity of the brain’s functional networks brought about by an increase in inter-modular functional connectivity – are the same as those previously shown to accompany perceptual awareness of a task-relevant target (Godwin et al., PNAS, 2014). Together with these previous findings, these results suggest that awareness and attention capture are implemented via similar integrative, global changes in the brain’s functional connectivity.