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Opposite biases in salience-based selection for the left and right posterior parietal cortex


Visual selection is determined in part by the saliency of stimuli. We assessed the brain mechanisms determining attentional responses to saliency. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was applied to the left and right posterior parietal cortices (PPC) immediately before participants were asked to identify a compound letter. rTMS to the right PPC disrupted the guidance of attention toward salient stimuli, whereas rTMS to the left PPC affected the ability to bias selection away from salient stimuli. We conclude that right and left PPC have opposite roles in biasing selection to and from salient stimuli in the environment.

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Figure 1: Examples of stimuli for the global and local tasks.
Figure 2: rTMS over right and left PPC has differential effects on selection and suppression of saliency.


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We would like to thank A. Bagshaw and H. Allen for conducting the scanner sessions. This work was supported by grants from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Medical Research Council (UK).

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Correspondence to Carmel Mevorach.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

A typical display sequence for the Global/Local task. (PDF 135 kb)

Supplementary Fig. 2

Foci of stimulation for the 9 participants superimposed on a normalized brain. (PDF 216 kb)

Supplementary Methods (PDF 97 kb)

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Mevorach, C., Humphreys, G. & Shalev, L. Opposite biases in salience-based selection for the left and right posterior parietal cortex. Nat Neurosci 9, 740–742 (2006).

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