To analyze the peculiarities of the mechanisms of selective visual attention in humans, it is necessary to concentrate on its specific spatial and temporal characteristics. Selective attention and its definite mechanisms as the main brain processes are traditionally assessed separately with the help of such modern technologies as Position Emission Tomography (PET) and e.r.p. recording. However, in their article “Combined Spatial and Temporal Imaging of Brain Activity during Visual Selective Attention in Humans,” Heinze and the group of psychologists and neurologists provided the results of the research in which they concentrated on studying these mechanisms with the help of using the combination of PET and e.r.p. recording methods (Heinze et al.). The main task of the research was to present the description of the cortical anatomy and the time course of the selective attentional processes (spatial and temporal features) with the help of their imaging (Heinze et al.).
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The group of healthy young humans was chosen for participation in tests. Their definite reactions in which the brain processes were involved were provoked with the help of bilateral stimulus arrays, which were flashed rapidly (Heinze et al.). The fixations of their gaze and changes in regional cerebral blood flow were measured using PET and electro-oculographic methods (Heinze et al.). Possible activations were visualized, and the images were analyzed by the researchers properly. It became possible to analyze the peculiarities of all the significant activations, including ones in the fusiform gyrus of the extrastriate visual cortex (Heinze et al.).
To prove the results of the assessment, thee.r.p. recording was used in order to focus on the spatial characteristics. To study the peculiarities of the correlation between the results of PET and e.r.p. recording methods, the dipole models were worked out. Thus, the peculiarities of the attention effects were examined and proved with references to the results of several tests and the created models (Heinze et al.).
The findings and the tests’ results showed the level of effectiveness of using combined measurements such as PET and e.r.p. recording methods for assessing the characteristics of spatial attention, which influences processing in the striate cortex and temporal features in comparison with the separate usage of these methods. Definite attentional modulations were also examined. As a result, it was stated that spatial attention influences activity in the human ventral stream of visual processes, and these processes depend on the work of certain brain structures, including the work of the posterior parietal lobe and anterior cingulate cortex (Heinze et al.).
The results of the research are interesting and significant for the further investigation of the subject because they help to understand the processes of how stimulus information can be selectively chosen and transformed by the personal attentional systems and focus on the processes which take place in the brain. Moreover, this knowledge can be effective for learning the physiological fundaments of attention processes and for examining the alternative psychological models of attention.
It is possible to consider the findings of the study as rather original because they are based on the complex analysis of the images of neural activity during selective attention, which are the results of the increased regional cerebral blood flow in the fusiform gyrus. Thus, the researchers presented an interesting method to examine the peculiarities of selective attention from both the spatial and temporal aspects at the same time using the combination of technologies under the same stimulus conditions.
Heinze, Hans-Jochen, George Mangun, William Burchert, Hermann Hinrichs, Martin Scholz, Till Munte, Alexander Gos, Michael Scherg, Sigfrid Johannes, Hermann Hundesshgen, Michael Gazzaniga and Steven Hillyard. “Combined Spatial and Temporal Imaging of Brain Activity During Visual Selective Attention in Humans”. Nature 372.8 (1994): 543-546. Print.