Spatial attention predicts for willed action: an fMRI study

Steffens, Michelle K. (2013). Spatial attention predicts for willed action: an fMRI study Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Steffens, Michelle K.
Thesis Title Spatial attention predicts for willed action: an fMRI study
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2013-10-09
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Associate Professor Ross Cunnington
Total pages 102
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Willed action is fundamental to our functioning, seeming to arise swiftly and effortlessly; yet preparatory brain activity begins several seconds before action selection is consciously experienced. While the earliest of this leading activity does not occur in motor regions, it is related to the specific action being prepared, sparking debate about what non-motor processes are involved. The premotor theory of attention may offer insight. This theory asserts that covert spatial attention and motor preparation arise from the same neural substrates and are functionally equivalent: as voluntary action is prepared, spatial attention covertly shifts. This study uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the similarity between patterns of brain activity associated with covert spatial attention directed to the left or right, and preparation of a willed action to the left or right hand. Twenty-four healthy adults participated in two tasks during brain scanning. To identify activation patterns associated with spatial attention to the left and right, participants received bilateral vibrotactile stimulation to the index fingers and detected frequency changes at the cued finger. To identify activation during willed action, participants freely selected whether to make a button-press with their left or right index finger. Similarity Analysis revealed an interesting congruity effect: the pattern of brain activity during attention-left was more similar to activity during the preparation of willed action at the left hand than at the right hand; and the reverse effect was observed for attention-right. This suggests that neural processes involved in covert spatial attention shifts may also be involved in the preparation of specific willed action. These results tentatively support the premotor theory of attention.
Keyword Spatial attention predicts
Willed action
fMRI study

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Created: Fri, 04 Jul 2014, 12:09:06 EST by Danico Jones on behalf of School of Psychology