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A multimodal cortical network for the detection of changes in the sensory environment

Nature Neurosciencevolume 3pages277283 (2000) | Download Citation



Sensory stimuli undergoing sudden changes draw attention and preferentially enter our awareness. We used event-related functional magnetic-resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify brain regions responsive to changes in visual, auditory and tactile stimuli. Unimodally responsive areas included visual, auditory and somatosensory association cortex. Multimodally responsive areas comprised a right-lateralized network including the temporoparietal junction, inferior frontal gyrus, insula and left cingulate and supplementary motor areas. These results reveal a distributed, multimodal network for involuntary attention to events in the sensory environment. This network contains areas thought to underlie the P300 event-related potential and closely corresponds to the set of cortical regions damaged in patients with hemineglect syndromes.

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This study was supported by grants to K.D.D. from the Whitehall Foundation and the Medical Research Council of Canada.

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  1. Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, and Toronto Western Research Institute, MP14-322, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, M5T 2S8, Ontario, Canada

    • Jonathan Downar
    •  & Karen D. Davis
  2. Department of Medical Imaging, University of Toronto, and Toronto Western Research Institute, MP3-404, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, M5T 2S8, Ontario, Canada

    • Adrian P. Crawley
    •  & David J. Mikulis
  3. Department of Surgery, Division of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto, Toronto Western Hospital, and Toronto Western Research Institute, MP14-322, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, M5T 2S8, Ontario, Canada

    • Karen D. Davis


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Correspondence to Karen D. Davis.

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