Causal functional contributions and interactions in the attention network of the brain: an objective multi-perturbation analysis


Spatial attention is a prime example for the distributed network functions of the brain. Lesion studies in animal models have been used to investigate intact attentional mechanisms as well as perspectives for rehabilitation in the injured brain. Here, we systematically analyzed behavioral data from cooling deactivation and permanent lesion experiments in the cat, where unilateral deactivation of the posterior parietal cortex (in the vicinity of the posterior middle suprasylvian cortex, pMS) or the superior colliculus (SC) cause a severe neglect in the contralateral hemifield. Counterintuitively, additional deactivation of structures in the opposite hemisphere reverses the deficit. Using such lesion data, we employed a game-theoretical approach, multi-perturbation Shapley value analysis (MSA), for inferring functional contributions and network interactions of bilateral pMS and SC from behavioral performance in visual attention studies. The approach provides an objective theoretical strategy for lesion inferences and allows a unique quantitative characterization of regional functional contributions and interactions on the basis of multi-perturbations. The quantitative analysis demonstrated that right posterior parietal cortex and superior colliculus made the strongest positive contributions to left-field orienting, while left brain regions had negative contributions, implying that their perturbation may reverse the effects of contralateral lesions or improve normal function. An analysis of functional modulations and interactions among the regions revealed redundant interactions (implying functional overlap) between regions within each hemisphere, and synergistic interactions between bilateral regions. To assess the reliability of the MSA method in the face of variable and incomplete input data, we performed a sensitivity analysis, investigating how much the contribution values of the four regions depended on the performance of specific configurations and on the prediction of unknown performances. The results suggest that the MSA approach is sensitive to categorical, but insensitive to gradual changes in the input data. Finally, we created a basic network model that was based on the known anatomical interactions among cortical-tectal regions and reproduced the experimentally observed behavior in visual orienting. We discuss the structural organization of the network model relative to the causal modulations identified by MSA, to aid a mechanistic understanding of the attention network of the brain.

Bibliografische Daten

StatusVeröffentlicht - 01.06.2016
PubMed 26002616