The subcortical and neurochemical organization of the ventral and dorsal attention networks
Research Square preprint. 2022-07-11; :
Attention is a core cognitive function that filters and selects behaviourally relevant information in the environment. The cortical mapping of attentional systems identified two segregated networks that mediate stimulus-driven and goal-driven processes, the Ventral and the Dorsal Attention Networks (VAN, DAN). Deep brain electrophysiological recordings, behavioural data from phylogenetic distant species and observations from human brain pathologies challenge purely corticocentric models. Here, we used advanced methods of functional alignment applied to resting-state functional connectivity analyses to map the subcortical architecture of the Ventral and the Dorsal Attention Networks. Our investigations revealed the involvement of the pulvinar, the superior colliculi, the head of caudate nuclei, and a cluster of brainstem nuclei relevant for both networks. These nuclei are densely connected structural network hubs as revealed by diffusion-weighted imaging tractography and establish interrelations with the acetylcholine nicotinic receptor as well as dopamine and serotonin transporters systems. This convergence of functional, structural, and neurochemical evidence provides a novel framework to comprehensively understand the neural basis of attention across different species and brain diseases.