Positron-emission tomography studies of cross-modality inhibition in selective attentional tasks: Closing the "mind's eye"

Ryuta Kawashima, Brendan T. O'Sullivan, Per E. Roland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

188 Citations (Scopus)


It is a familiar experience that we tend to close our eyes or divert our gaze when concentrating attention on cognitively demanding tasks. We report on the brain activity correlates of directing attention away from potentially competing visual processing and toward processing in another sensory modality. Results are reported from a series of positron-emission tomography studies of the human brain engaged in somatosensory tasks, in both "eyes open" and "eyes closed" conditions. During these tasks, there was a significant decrease in the regional cerebral blood flow in the visual cortex, which occurred irrespective of whether subjects had to close their eyes or were instructed to keep their eyes open. These task-related deactivations of the association areas belonging to the nonrelevant sensory modality were interpreted as being due to decreased metabolic activity. Previous research has clearly demonstrated selective activation of cortical regions involved in attention-demanding modality-specific tasks; however, the other side of this story appears to be one of selective deactivation of unattended areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5969-5972
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Jun 20
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Deactivation
  • Human brain activity
  • Regional cerebral blood flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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