Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Within the parietal cortex, the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) seem to be involved in both spatial and nonspatial functions: Both areas are activated when misleading information is provided by invalid spatial cues in Posner's location-cueing paradigm, but also when infrequent deviant stimuli are presented within a series of standard events. In the present study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the distinct and shared brain responses to (i) invalidly cued targets requiring attentional reorienting, and (ii) to target stimuli deviating in color and orientation leading to an oddball-like distraction effect. Both unexpected location and feature changes were accompanied by a significant slowing of manual reaction times. Bilateral TPJ and right superior parietal lobe (SPL) activation was observed in response to invalidly as compared to validly cued targets. In contrast, the bilateral inferior occipito-temporal cortex, the left inferior parietal cortex, right frontal areas, and the cerebellum showed stronger activation in response to deviant than to standard targets. Common activations were observed in the right angular gyrus along the IPS and in the right inferior frontal gyrus. We conclude that the superior parietal and temporo-parietal activations observed here as well as previously in location-cueing paradigms do not merely reflect the detection and processing of unexpected stimuli. Furthermore, our data suggest that the right IPS and the inferior frontal gyrus are involved in attentional selection and distractor processing of both spatial and nonspatial features.