A novel, salient event in the environment powerfully captures attention. This stimulus-driven attentional capture not only includes orienting of attention toward the event, but also an evaluative process to determine the behavioral significance and appropriate response to the event. Whereas a network of human brain regions composed of prefrontal and temporoparietal regions have been associated with stimulus-driven attention, the neural substrates of orienting have never been teased apart from those of evaluative processes. Here we used fMRI to measure the human brain's response to the temporally extended presentations of salient, task-irrelevant stimuli, and found a clear functional dissociation in the stimulus-driven attention network; the anterior insula and cingulate cortex showed transient orienting responses to the onsets and offsets of the stimuli, whereas the temporoparietal cortex exhibited sustained activity throughout event evaluation. The lateral prefrontal cortex was implicated in both attentional and evaluative processes, pointing to its central, integrative role in stimulus-driven attention.
Copyright © 2014 the authors 0270-6474/14/346958-12$15.00/0.