Perspective: causes and functional significance of temporal variations in attention control

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    • Published: 04-25-2014 02:33 pm
    • http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00381/full

      Attention control describes the human ability to selectively modulate the plethora of sensory signals and internal thoughts. The neural systems of attention control have been studied extensively, warranted by the importance of this ability to daily functioning. Here, we consider an emerging theme in the study of attention control—slow temporal fluctuations. We posit that these fluctuations are functionally significant, and may reflect underlying interactions between the neural systems related to attention control. We explore thought experiments to generate different perspectives on landscapes created by the interactions between attention control networks and the sources of input to these control systems. We examine interactions of the fronto-parietal and the default mode networks in the context of internal cognition, and the noradrenergic modulatory projections in the context of arousal, and we consider the implications of these inter-network dynamics on attention states and attention disorders. Through these thought experiments we highlight the breadth of potential knowledge to be gained from the study of slow fluctuations in attention control.
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