Poster C117, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Distinct prefrontal responses to salient distractors during perception and goal-directed action
Dan McCarthy1, Christine Gamble1, Joo-Hyun Song1,2; 1Department of Cognitive, Linguistic & Psychological Sciences, Brown University, 2Brown Institute for Brain Science, Brown University
Countless times each day, humans extract detailed information from the world to arrive at decisions and execute appropriate actions. Often, however, we find ourselves susceptible to environmental distractions that can impair this process and have serious consequences. For instance, nearly half a million people are injured or killed due to distracted driving annually in the U.S. alone. Intuitively, one might expect that highly salient distractors cause more disruption than weak ones (e.g., a bright flashing light attracts more attention than when it is dimmed). Indeed, perception-based target selection tasks requiring a keypress response suggest that this is the case. Conversely, however, less salient distractors cause more interference during goal-directed action (Moher, Anderson & Song, 2015). Using fMRI, we found a neural correlate of this salience-driven perception-action dissociation. Specifically, when the target varied across trials, BOLD responses in the right inferior and middle frontal gyri (rIFG/MFG) selectively increase to the presence of a highly salient distractor during action, but show the opposite pattern during perception. In contrast, when the target was predictable and distractors could be more easily ignored, salience-related BOLD changes in the rIFG/MFG were largely absent for both response types. Interestingly, the rIFG/MFG complex has been proposed as a ‘circuit breaker’ between goal-directed and stimulus-driven attention (Corbetta & Schulman, 2002). Due to the overlap of several regions involved in top-down attention and motor control, we propose that the rIFG/MFG might be selectively modulated to help suppress strong bottom-up distractor signals during goal-directed action, but not perception.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Other