Title

Attention-based modulation of tactile stimuli: A comparison between prefrontal lesion patients and healthy age-matched controls

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Neuropsychologia

Volume

57

Publisher

Elsevier

Publication Date

3-18-2014

First Page

101

Last Page

111

DOI

10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.03.003

Abstract

Objectives To investigate the role of the prefrontal cortex in attention-based modulation of cortical somatosensory processing. Methods Six prefrontal stroke patients were compared with eleven neurologically intact older adults during a vibrotactile discrimination task. All subjects attended to stimuli on one digit while ignoring distracter stimuli on a separate digit of the same hand. Subjects were required to report infrequent targets on the attended digit only. Throughout testing electroencephalography was used to measure event-related potentials for both task-relevant and irrelevant stimuli. Results Prefrontal patients demonstrated significant changes in cortical somatosensory processing based on attention compared to age-matched controls. This was evident both in early unimodal somatosensory processing (i.e. P100) and in later cortical processing stages (i.e. long-latency positivity). Moreover, there was a tendency towards a tonic loss of inhibition over early somatosensory cortical processing (i.e. P50). Conclusions The attention-based modulation noted for neurologically intact older adults was absent in prefrontal lesion patients. Significance The present study highlights the important role of prefrontal regions in sustaining inhibition over early sensory cortical processing stages and in modifying somatosensory transmission based on task-relevance. Notably these deficits extend beyond those previously shown to occur as a function of age.

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