Hemispheric asymmetry in visuotopic posterior parietal cortex emerges with visual short-term memory load.
ABSTRACT: Visual short-term memory (VSTM) briefly maintains a limited sampling from the visual world. Activity in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) tightly correlates with the number of items stored in VSTM. This activity may occur in or near to multiple distinct visuotopically mapped cortical areas that have been identified in IPS. To understand the topographic and spatial properties of VSTM, we investigated VSTM activity in visuotopic IPS regions using functional magnetic resonance imaging. VSTM drove areas IPS0-2, but largely spared IPS3-4. Under visual stimulation, these areas in both hemispheres code the contralateral visual hemifield. In contrast to the hemispheric symmetry observed with visual stimulation, an asymmetry emerged during VSTM with increasing memory load. The left hemisphere exhibited load-dependent activity only for contralateral memory items; right hemisphere activity reflected VSTM load regardless of visual-field location. Our findings demonstrate that VSTM induces a switch in spatial representation in right hemisphere IPS from contralateral to full-field coding. The load dependence of right hemisphere effects argues that memory-dependent and/or attention-dependent processes drive this change in spatial processing. This offers a novel means for investigating spatial-processing impairments in hemispatial neglect.
Project description:We used whole-head magnetoencephalography to study the representation of objects in visual short-term memory (VSTM) in the human brain. Subjects remembered the location and color of either two or four colored disks that were encoded from the left or right visual field (equal number of distractors in the other visual hemifield). The data were analyzed using time-frequency methods, which enabled us to discover a strong oscillatory activity in the 8-15 Hz band during the retention interval. The study of the alpha power variation revealed two types of responses, in different brain regions. The first was a decrease in alpha power in parietal cortex, contralateral to the stimuli, with no load effect. The second was an increase of alpha power in parietal and lateral prefrontal cortex, as memory load increased, but without interaction with the hemifield of the encoded stimuli. The absence of interaction between side of encoded stimuli and memory load suggests that these effects reflect distinct underlying mechanisms. A novel method to localize the neural generators of load-related oscillatory activity was devised, using cortically-constrained distributed source-localization methods. Some activations were found in the inferior intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and intraoccipital sulcus (IOS). Importantly, strong oscillatory activity was also found in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Alpha oscillatory activity in DLPFC was synchronized with the activity in parietal regions, suggesting that VSTM functions in the human brain may be implemented via a network that includes bilateral DLPFC and bilateral IOS/IPS as key nodes.
Project description:Visual short-term memory (VSTM) is limited in capacity. Therefore, it is important to encode only visual information that is most likely to be relevant to behaviour. Here we asked which aspects of selective biasing of VSTM encoding predict subsequent memory-based performance. We measured EEG during a selective VSTM encoding task, in which we varied parametrically the memory load and the precision of recall required to compare a remembered item to a subsequent probe item. On half the trials, a spatial cue indicated that participants only needed to encode items from one hemifield. We observed a typical sequence of markers of anticipatory spatial attention: early attention directing negativity (EDAN), anterior attention directing negativity (ADAN), late directing attention positivity (LDAP); as well as of VSTM maintenance: contralateral delay activity (CDA). We found that individual differences in preparatory brain activity (EDAN/ADAN) predicted cue-related changes in recall accuracy, indexed by memory-probe discrimination sensitivity (d'). Importantly, our parametric manipulation of memory-probe similarity also allowed us to model the behavioural data for each participant, providing estimates for the quality of the memory representation and the probability that an item could be retrieved. We found that selective encoding primarily increased the probability of accurate memory recall; that ERP markers of preparatory attention predicted the cue-related changes in recall probability.
Project description:Recent studies have provided conflicting accounts regarding where in the human brain visual short-term memory (VSTM) content is stored, with strong univariate fMRI responses being reported in superior intraparietal sulcus (IPS), but robust multivariate decoding being reported in occipital cortex. Given the continuous influx of information in everyday vision, VSTM storage under distraction is often required. We found that neither distractor presence nor predictability during the memory delay affected behavioral performance. Similarly, superior IPS exhibited consistent decoding of VSTM content across all distractor manipulations and had multivariate responses that closely tracked behavioral VSTM performance. However, occipital decoding of VSTM content was substantially modulated by distractor presence and predictability. Furthermore, we found no effect of target-distractor similarity on VSTM behavioral performance, further challenging the role of sensory regions in VSTM storage. Overall, consistent with previous univariate findings, our results indicate that superior IPS, but not occipital cortex, has a central role in VSTM storage.
Project description:Fundamental theories of human cognition have long posited that the short-term maintenance of actions is supported by one of the "core knowledge" systems of human visual cognition, yet its neural substrates are still not well understood. In particular, it is unclear whether the visual short-term memory (VSTM) of actions has distinct neural substrates or, as proposed by the spatio-object architecture of VSTM, shares them with VSTM of objects and spatial locations. In two experiments, we tested these two competing hypotheses by directly contrasting the neural substrates for VSTM of actions with those for objects and locations. Our results showed that the bilateral middle temporal cortex (MT) was specifically involved in VSTM of actions because its activation and its functional connectivity with the frontal-parietal network (FPN) were only modulated by the memory load of actions, but not by that of objects/agents or locations. Moreover, the brain regions involved in the maintenance of spatial location information (i.e., superior parietal lobule, SPL) was also recruited during the maintenance of actions, consistent with the temporal-spatial nature of actions. Meanwhile, the frontoparietal network (FPN) was commonly involved in all types of VSTM and showed flexible functional connectivity with the domain-specific regions, depending on the current working memory tasks. Together, our results provide clear evidence for a distinct neural system for maintaining actions in VSTM, which supports the core knowledge system theory and the domain-specific and domain-general architectures of VSTM.
Project description:We have recently shown that interference with repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) of right posterior intraparietal sulcus (IPS) cortex during the allocation of spatial attention leads to abnormal desynchronization of anticipatory (pretarget) electroencephalographic alpha rhythms (8-12 Hz) in occipital-parietal cortex and the detection of subsequently presented visual targets (Capotosto et al. 2009). Since lesion data suggest that lesions of the right frontoparietal cortices produce more severe and long-lasting deficits of visual spatial attention than lesions of the left hemisphere, here, we used the mentioned rTMS-electroencephalographic procedure to test if the control of anticipatory alpha rhythms by IPS is asymmetrically organized in the 2 hemispheres. Results showed that interference with either left or right IPS during covert spatial attention equally disrupted the normally lateralized anticipatory modulation of occipital visual cortex, with stronger alpha desynchronization contralaterally to the attended visual field. In contrast, only interference with right IPS induced a paradoxical pretarget synchronization of alpha rhythms and bilateral deficits of target identification. These results suggest that the control of spatial topography of anticipatory alpha rhythms in occipital-parietal cortex is shared between left and right IPS cortex, but that right IPS uniquely contributes to a bilateral prestimulus activation of occipital visual cortex.
Project description:Contralateral hemispheric representation of sensory inputs (the right visual hemifield in the left hemisphere and vice versa) is a fundamental feature of primate sensorimotor organization, in particular the visuomotor system. However, many higher-order cognitive functions in humans show an asymmetric hemispheric lateralization--e.g., right brain specialization for spatial processing--necessitating a convergence of information from both hemifields. Electrophysiological studies in monkeys and functional imaging in humans have investigated space and action representations at different stages of visuospatial processing, but the transition from contralateral to unified global spatial encoding and the relationship between these encoding schemes and functional lateralization are not fully understood. Moreover, the integration of data across monkeys and humans and elucidation of interspecies homologies is hindered, because divergent findings may reflect actual species differences or arise from discrepancies in techniques and measured signals (electrophysiology vs. imaging). Here, we directly compared spatial cue and memory representations for action planning in monkeys and humans using event-related functional MRI during a working-memory oculomotor task. In monkeys, cue and memory-delay period activity in the frontal, parietal, and temporal regions was strongly contralateral. In putative human functional homologs, the contralaterality was significantly weaker, and the asymmetry between the hemispheres was stronger. These results suggest an inverse relationship between contralaterality and lateralization and elucidate similarities and differences in human and macaque cortical circuits subserving spatial awareness and oculomotor goal-directed actions.
Project description:The present study investigates the relation between resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of cytoarchitectonically defined subdivisions of the parietal cortex at the end of 1st grade and arithmetic performance at the end of 2nd grade. Results revealed a dissociable pattern of relations between rsFC and arithmetic competence among subdivisions of intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and angular gyrus (AG). rsFC between right hemisphere IPS subdivisions and contralateral IPS subdivisions positively correlated with arithmetic competence. In contrast, rsFC between the left hIP1 and the right medial temporal lobe, and rsFC between the left AG and left superior frontal gyrus, were negatively correlated with arithmetic competence. These results suggest that strong inter-hemispheric IPS connectivity is important for math development, reflecting either neurocognitive mechanisms specific to arithmetic processing, domain-general mechanisms that are particularly relevant to arithmetic competence, or structural 'cortical maturity'. Stronger connectivity between IPS, and AG, subdivisions and frontal and temporal cortices, however, appears to be negatively associated with math development, possibly reflecting the ability to disengage suboptimal problem-solving strategies during mathematical processing, or to flexibly reorient task-based networks. Importantly, the reported results pertain even when controlling for reading, spatial attention, and working memory, suggesting that the observed rsFC-behavior relations are specific to arithmetic competence.
Project description:Object categorization and exemplar identification place conflicting demands on the visual system, yet humans easily perform these fundamentally contradictory tasks. Previous studies suggest the existence of dissociable visual processing subsystems to accomplish the two abilities-an abstract category (AC) subsystem that operates effectively in the left hemisphere and a specific exemplar (SE) subsystem that operates effectively in the right hemisphere. This multiple subsystems theory explains a range of visual abilities, but previous studies have not explored what mechanisms exist for coordinating the function of multiple subsystems and/or resolving the conflicts that would arise between them. We collected functional MRI data while participants performed two variants of a cue-probe working memory task that required AC or SE processing. During the maintenance phase of the task, the bilateral intraparietal sulcus (IPS) exhibited hemispheric asymmetries in functional connectivity consistent with exerting proactive control over the two visual subsystems: greater connectivity to the left hemisphere during the AC task, and greater connectivity to the right hemisphere during the SE task. Moreover, probe-evoked activation revealed activity in a broad frontoparietal network (containing IPS) associated with reactive control when the two visual subsystems were in conflict, and variations in this conflict signal across trials was related to the visual similarity of the cue-probe stimulus pairs. Although many studies have confirmed the existence of multiple visual processing subsystems, this study is the first to identify the mechanisms responsible for coordinating their operations.
Project description:Both hemispheres contribute to motor control beyond the innervation of the contralateral alpha motoneurons. The left hemisphere has been associated with higher-order aspects of motor control like sequencing and temporal processing, the right hemisphere with the transformation of visual information to guide movements in space. In the visuomotor context, empirical evidence regarding the latter has been limited though the right hemisphere's specialization for visuospatial processing is well-documented in perceptual tasks. This study operationalized temporal and spatial processing demands during visuomotor processing and investigated hemispheric asymmetries in neural activation during the unimanual control of a visual cursor by grip force. Functional asymmetries were investigated separately for visuomotor planning and online control during functional magnetic resonance imaging in 19 young, healthy, right-handed participants. The expected cursor movement was coded with different visual trajectories. During planning when spatial processing demands predominated, activity was right-lateralized in a hand-independent manner in the inferior temporal lobe, occipito-parietal border, and ventral premotor cortex. When temporal processing demands overweighed spatial demands, BOLD responses during planning were left-lateralized in the temporo-parietal junction. During online control of the cursor, right lateralization was not observed. Instead, left lateralization occurred in the intraparietal sulcus. Our results identify movement phase and spatiotemporal demands as important determinants of dynamic hemispheric asymmetries during visuomotor processing. We suggest that, within a bilateral visuomotor network, the right hemisphere exhibits a processing preference for planning global spatial movement features whereas the left hemisphere preferentially times local features of visual movement trajectories and adjusts movement online.
Project description:Brain regions beyond visual cortex are thought to be responsible for attention-related modulation of visual processing [1, 2], but most evidence is indirect. Here, we applied functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), including retinotopic mapping of visual areas, to patients with focal right-parietal lesions and left spatial neglect [3, 4]. When attentional load at fixation was minimal, retinotopic areas in right visual cortex showed preserved responses to task-irrelevant checkerboards in the contralateral left hemifield, analogously to left visual cortex for right-hemifield checkerboards, indicating a "symmetric" pattern in both hemispheres with respect to contralateral stimulation under these conditions. But when attentional load at fixation was increased, a functional asymmetry emerged for visual cortex, with contralateral responses in right visual areas being pathologically reduced (even eliminated for right V4/TEO), whereas left visual areas showed no such reduction in their contralateral response. These results reveal attention-dependent abnormalities in visual cortex after lesions in distant (parietal) regions. This may explain otherwise puzzling aspects of neglect [5, 6], as confirmed here by additional behavioral testing.