A brief thought can modulate activity in extrastriate visual areas: Top-down effects of refreshing just-seen visual stimuli

Matthew R. Johnson, Karen J. Mitchell, Carol L. Raye, Mark D'Esposito, Marcia K. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

93 Scopus citations

Abstract

Current models of executive function hold that the internal representations of stimuli used during reflective thought are maintained in the same posterior cortical regions initially activated during perception, and that activity in such regions is modulated by top-down signals originating in prefrontal cortex. In an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we presented participants with two pictures simultaneously, a face and a scene, immediately followed either by a repetition of one of the pictures (perception) or by a cue to think briefly of one of the just-seen, but no longer present, pictures (refreshing, a reflective act). Refreshing faces and scenes modulated activity in the fusiform face area (FFA) and parahippocampal place area (PPA), respectively, as well as other regions exhibiting relative perceptual selectivity for either faces or scenes. Four scene-selective regions (lateral precuneus, retrosplenial cortex, PPA, and middle occipital gyrus) showed an anatomical gradient of responsiveness to top-down reflective influences versus bottom-up perceptual influences. These results demonstrate that a brief reflective act can modulate posterior cortical activity in a stimulus-specific manner, suggesting that such modulatory mechanisms are engaged even during transient ongoing thought. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that refreshing is a component of more complex modulatory operations such as working memory and mental imagery, and that refresh-related activity may thus contribute to the common activation patterns seen across different cognitive tasks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)290-299
Number of pages10
JournalNeuroImage
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

Keywords

  • Executive function
  • Refreshing
  • Top-down control
  • Working memory
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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