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Top-down selective attention to the affective properties of taste stimuli increases activation to the taste stimuli in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and pregenual cingulate cortex (PGC), and selective attention to the intensity of the stimuli increases the activation in the insular taste cortex, but the origin of the top-down attentional biases is not known. Using psychophysiological interaction connectivity analyses, we showed that in the anterior lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) at Y = 53 mm the correlation with activity in OFC and PGC seed regions was greater when attention was to pleasantness compared with when attention was to intensity. Conversely, we showed that in a more posterior region of the LPFC at Y = 34 the correlation with activity in the anterior insula seed region was greater when attention was to intensity compared with when attention was to pleasantness. We also showed that correlations between areas in these separate processing streams were dependent on selective attention to affective value versus physical intensity of the stimulus. We then propose a biased activation theory of selective attention to account for the findings and contrast this with a biased competition theory of selective attention.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurophysiol

Publication Date





1649 - 1660


Adult, Attention, Brain Mapping, Female, Gyrus Cinguli, Humans, Male, Motivation, Neural Pathways, Photic Stimulation, Pleasure, Prefrontal Cortex, Taste, Young Adult