Selective attention modulates inferior frontal gyrus activity during action observation

Chong, T. T-J., Williams, M. A., Cunnington, R. and Mattingley, J. (2008) Selective attention modulates inferior frontal gyrus activity during action observation. Neuroimage, 40 1: 298-307. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.11.030

Author Chong, T. T-J.
Williams, M. A.
Cunnington, R.
Mattingley, J.
Title Selective attention modulates inferior frontal gyrus activity during action observation
Journal name Neuroimage   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1053-8119
Publication date 2008-01-01
Year available 2007
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2007.11.030
Open Access Status
Volume 40
Issue 1
Start page 298
End page 307
Total pages 10
Editor Mazziotta, J. C.
Frackowiak, R. S. J.
Friston, K. J.
Place of publication United States
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Subject C1
380103 Biological Psychology (Neuropsychology, Psychopharmacology, Physiological Psychology)
780108 Behavioural and cognitive sciences
Abstract Our ability to recognize the actions of others is subserved by a complex network of brain areas, including the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), inferior parietal lobe (IPL) and superior temporal sulcus (STS). An unresolved issue is whether the activity within these regions requires top-down control or whether it arises relatively automatically during passive action observation. Here we used fMRI to determine whether cortical activity associated with action observation is modulated by the strategic allocation of selective attention. Participants observed moving and stationary images of reach-to-grasp hand actions, while they performed an attentionally demanding task at the fovea. We first defined regions-of-interest (ROIs) in the IFG, IPL and STS which responded to the perception of these actions. We then probed these ROIs while participants observed the identical, but now task-irrelevant, actions and instead performed an easy (low attentional load) or difficult (high attentional load) visual discrimination task. Our data indicate that the activity of the left IFG was consistently attenuated under conditions of high attentional load, while the remaining action observation areas remained relatively unaffected by attentional manipulations. The suppression of the left IFG was unique to the observation of hand actions, and did not occur during the observation of non-biological control stimuli, in the form of coherent dot motion. We propose that the left IFG is the site at which descending inhibitory processes affect the processing of observed actions, and that the attentional modulation of this region is responsible for filtering task-irrelevant actions during ongoing behavior. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keyword Neurosciences
Radiology, Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging
Neurosciences & Neurology
Radiology, Nuclear Medicine & Medical Imaging
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collection: 2008 Higher Education Research Data Collection
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 60 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Mon, 28 Apr 2008, 22:10:58 EST by Mrs Jennifer English on behalf of School of Psychology