A critical role of temporoparietal junction in the integration of top-down and bottom-up attentional control

Qiong Wu, Chi Fu Chang, Sisi Xi, I. Wen Huang, Zuxiang Liu, Chi Hung Juan, Yanhong Wu, Jin Fan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Information processing can be biased toward behaviorally relevant and salient stimuli by top-down (goal-directed) and bottom-up (stimulus-driven) attentional control processes respectively. However, the neural basis underlying the integration of these processes is not well understood. We employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) in humans to examine the brain mechanisms underlying the interaction between these two processes. We manipulated the cognitive load involved in top-down processing and stimulus surprise involved in bottom-up processing in a factorial design by combining a majority function task and an oddball paradigm. We found that high cognitive load and high surprise level were associated with prolonged reaction time compared to low cognitive load and low surprise level, with a synergistic interaction effect, which was accompanied by a greater deactivation of bilateral temporoparietal junction (TPJ). In addition, the TPJ displayed negative functional connectivity with right middle occipital gyrus, which is involved in bottom-up processing (modulated by the interaction effect), and the right frontal eye field (FEF), which is involved in top-down control. The enhanced negative functional connectivity between the TPJ and right FEF was accompanied by a larger behavioral interaction effect across subjects. Application of cathodal tDCS over the right TPJ eliminated the interaction effect. These results suggest that the TPJ plays a critical role in processing bottom-up information for top-down control of attention. Hum Brain Mapp 36:4317-4333, 2015.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4317-4333
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2015


  • Attentional control
  • FMRI
  • Interaction
  • TDCS
  • Temporoparietal junction


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