The functional neuroanatomy of target detection: an fMRI study of visual and auditory oddball tasks

Author(s): Linden DE, Prvulovic D, Formisano E, Völlinger M, Zanella FE, et al.


The neuronal response patterns that are required for an adequate behavioural reaction to subjectively relevant changes in the environment are commonly studied by means of oddball paradigms, in which occasional 'target' stimuli have to be detected in a train of frequent 'non-target' stimuli. The detection of such task-relevant stimuli is accompanied by a parietocentral positive component of the event-related potential, the P300. We performed EEG recordings of visual and auditory event-related potentials and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) when healthy subjects performed an oddball task. Significant increases in fMRI signal for target versus non-target conditions were observed in the supramarginal gyrus, frontal operculum and insular cortex bilaterally, and in further circumscribed parietal and frontal regions. These effects were consistent over various stimulation and response modalities and can be regarded as specific for target detection in both the auditory and the visual modality. These results therefore contribute to the understanding of the target detection network in human cerebral cortex and impose constraints on attempts at localizing the neuronal P300 generator. This is of importance both from a neurobiological perspective and because of the widespread application of the physiological correlates of target detection in clinical P300 studies.

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