Wolfger von der Behrens

Doctoral student

Research project

Attentional modulation of auditory signal processing – its neuronal basis in the rat auditory cortex A1

How does attention improve performance? My project approaches this issue from two different directions which it unifies - the psychophysics and the neurophysiology of attention.
Rats are trained on an auditory discrimination task that involves the covert shift of attention. This tasks requires a discrimination of frequency modulated tones by the animal after the presentation of an auditory cue (Posners paradigm). At the same time we measure the influence of attention on the signal processing in the auditory cortex A1 by means of extracellular recordings with multiple electrodes. With this setup it is possible to record simultaneously psychophysical parameters (i.e. reaction time) and single neuron activity in the cortex (i.e. spiking rate).
This approach reconciles two different levels of description for the phenomenon of attention.

Further readings:

Treue, S., Maunsell, J. H. (1996): Attentional modulation of visual motion processing in cortical areas MT and MST. Nature, 382: 539 – 541.
Posner, M.I. (1980): Orienting of Attention. Quart. J. of Exp. Psychol., 32: 3 – 25.
Reynolds, J. H., Pasternak, T., Desimone, R. (2000): Attention increases sensitivity of V4 neurons. Neuron, 26: 703 – 714.
Styles, E. A. (1997): The psychology of attention. Psychology Press.


2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2003



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Druckversion: 02. März 2012, 16:19