Attentional modulation of perceptual comparison for feature binding

Bo Cheng Kuo, Pia Rotshtein, Yei Yu Yeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the neural correlates of attentional modulation in the perceptual comparison process for detecting feature-binding changes in an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment. Participants performed a variant of a cued change detection task. They viewed a memory array, a spatial retro-cue, and later a probe array. Their task was to judge whether the cued item had changed between the two arrays. Change type was manipulated to be a color-location binding or a color feature change. The retro-cue onset time in the retention interval was manipulated to be early or late. As a consequence of strong inter-item competition, we found strong prefrontal activation for late cues when contrasting the binding-change with the color-change condition. In contrast, we observed a comparable behavioral and neural effect between the two types of change detection when retro-cue was presented early. More importantly, we demonstrated a significant inter-regional correlation between the prefrontal and parietal regions in both binding- and color-change conditions for late cues. In addition, extensive prefrontal- parietal-visual functional connectivity was showed for detecting binding changes in the late-cueing condition. These results support the critical role in prefrontal-parietal-visual functional coupling for resolving strong inter-item competition during the comparison process in the binding-change condition. We provide direct evidence that attention modulates neural activity associated with perceptual comparison, biasing competition in favour of the task-relevant information in order to detect binding changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC 99-2410-H-002-087-MY3) to Y.-Y. Yeh. We thank Kia Nobre (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford) for her comments and suggestions on an early version of the manuscript. We also thank Jyh-Horng Chen (Department of Electrical Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taiwan) for his technical support.


  • Attention
  • Change detection
  • Feature binding
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Visual short-term memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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