Involuntary Orienting and Conflict Resolution during Auditory Attention:The Role of Ventral and Dorsal Streams

Stewart, HJ and Shen, D and Sham, N and Alain, C (2020) Involuntary Orienting and Conflict Resolution during Auditory Attention:The Role of Ventral and Dorsal Streams. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 32 (10). pp. 1851-1863. ISSN 0898-929X

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Selective attention to sound object features such as pitch and location is associated with enhanced brain activity in ventral and dorsal streams, respectively. We examined the role of these pathways in involuntary orienting and conflict resolution using fMRI. Participants were presented with two tones that may, or may not, share the same nonspatial (frequency) or spatial (location) auditory features. In separate blocks of trials, participants were asked to attend to sound frequency or sound location and ignore the change in the task-irrelevant feature. In both attend-frequency and attend-location tasks, RTs were slower when the task-irrelevant feature changed than when it stayed the same (involuntary orienting). This behavioral cost coincided with enhanced activity in the pFC and superior temporal gyrus. Conflict resolution was examined by comparing situations where the change in stimulus features was congruent (both features changed) and incongruent (only one feature changed). Participants were slower and less accurate for incongruent than congruent sound features. This congruency effect was associated with enhanced activity in the pFC and was greater in the right superior temporal gyrus and medial frontal cortex during the attend-location task than during the attend-frequency task. Together, these findings do not support a strict division of “labor” into ventral and dorsal streams but rather suggest interactions between these pathways in situations involving changes in task-irrelevant sound feature and conflict resolution. These findings also validate the Test of Attention in Listening task by revealing distinct neural correlates for involuntary orienting and conflict resolution.

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Journal Article
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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
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28 Apr 2022 11:10
Last Modified:
21 Sep 2023 03:16