Isolating attentional systems: A cognitive-anatomical analysis

Michael I. Posner*, Albrecht Werner Inhoff, Frances J. Friedrich, Asher Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

399 Scopus citations


Recently our knowledge of the mechanisms of visual-spatial attention has improved because of studies employing single cell recording with alert monkeys and others using performance analysis of neurological patients. These studies suggest that a complex neural network that includes parts of the posterior parietal lobe and midbrain is involved in covert shifts of visual attention. Is this system an isolated visual attentional module or is it part of a more general attentional system? Our studies employ the dual-task technique to determine whether covert visual orienting can take place while a person’s attention is engaged in a language processing task. We find clear evidence of interference between the two tasks, which suggests some common operations. However, the results also indicate that whatever is common to the two tasks does not have the same anatomical location as that of visual-spatial attention.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)107-121
Number of pages15
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1987
Externally publishedYes


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