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Interactions between conscious and subconscious signals: Selective attention under feature-based competition increases neural selectivity during brain adaptation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Yuki Kikuchi, Jennifer Ip, Gaetan Lagier, James Mossom, Dr Sukhbinder Kumar, Professor Christopher Petkov, Dr Quoc Vuong



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Efficient perception in natural environments depends on neural interactions between voluntary processes within cognitive control, such as attention, and those that are automatic and subconscious, such as brain adaptation to predictable input (also called repetition suppression). Although both attention and adaptation have been studied separately and there is considerable knowledge of the neurobiology involved in each of these processes, how attention interacts with adaptation remains equivocal. We examined how attention interacts with visual and auditory adaptation by measuring neuroimaging effects consistent with changes in either neural gain or selectivity. Male and female human participants were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) first while they discriminated repetition of morphed faces or voices and either directed their attention to stimulus identity or spatial location. Attention to face or voice identity, while ignoring stimulus location, solely increased the gain of respectively face- or voice-sensitive cortex. The results were strikingly different in an experiment when participants attended to voice identity versus stimulus loudness. In this case, attention to voice while ignoring sound loudness increased neural selectivity. The combined results show that how attention affects adaptation depends on the level of feature-based competition, reconciling prior conflicting observations. The findings are theoretically important and are discussed in relation to neurobiological interactions between attention and different types of predictive signals.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kikuchi Y, Ip J, Lagier G, Mossom JC, Kumar S, Petkov CI, Barraclough NE, Vuong QC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Journal of Neuroscience

Year: 2019

Volume: 39

Issue: 28

Pages: 5506-5516

Print publication date: 10/07/2019

Online publication date: 08/05/2019

Acceptance date: 07/04/2019

Date deposited: 09/04/2019

ISSN (print): 0270-6474

ISSN (electronic): 1529-2401

Publisher: Society for Neuroscience


DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3052-18.2019


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Funder referenceFunder name
CIP is a Wellcome Trust Investigator (WT102961MA)
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences 20 Research Council, BBSRC U.K. (CIP and QCV)
CIP is ... supported by a European Research Council award (MECHIDENT)
Reece Foundation
Wellcome Trust Capital Award to Newcastle University (WT092504)