Performance degradation and altered cerebral activation during dual performance: Evidence for a bottom-up attentional system

Gazes, Yunglin; Rakitin, Brian C.; Steffener, Jason; Habeck, Christian; Butterfield, Brady; Ghez, Claude; Stern, Yaakov

Subjects performed a continuous tracking concurrently with an intermittent visual detection task to investigate the existence of competition for a capacity-limited stage (a bottleneck stage). Both perceptual and response-related processes between the two tasks were examined behaviorally and the changes in brain activity during dual-tasking relative to single-task were also assessed. Tracking error and joystick speed were analyzed for changes that were time-locked to visual detection stimuli. The associated brain activations were examined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). These were analyzed using mixed block and event-related models to tease apart sustained neural activity and activations associated with individual events. Increased tracking error and decreased joystick speed were observed relative to the target stimuli in the dualtask condition only, which supports the existence of a bottleneck stage in response-related processes. Neuroimaging data show decreased activation to target relative to non-target stimuli in the dual-task condition in the left primary motor and somatosensory cortices controlling righthand tracking, consistent with the tracking interference observed in behavioral data. Furthermore, the ventral attention system, rather than the dorsal attention system, was found to mediate task coordination between tracking and visual detection.



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Behavioural Brain Research

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February 11, 2022