IMR Press / JIN / Volume 20 / Issue 1 / DOI: 10.31083/j.jin.2021.01.297
Open Access Original Research
The functional hierarchy of the task-positive networks indicates a core control system of top-down regulation in visual attention
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1 Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, 100872 Beijing, P. R. China
2 Laboratory of the Department of Psychology, Renmin University of China, 100872 Beijing, P. R. China
3 School of Artificial Intelligence, Beijing Normal University, 100093 Beijing, P. R. China
4 CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, 100864 Beijing, P. R. China
5 Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100864 Beijing, P. R. China
6 The J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611 Florida, USA
*Correspondence: (Xiao-Tong Wen)
These authors contributed equally.
J. Integr. Neurosci. 2021, 20(1), 43–53;
Submitted: 23 September 2020 | Revised: 26 November 2020 | Accepted: 8 February 2021 | Published: 30 March 2021
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Published by IMR Press.
This is an open access article under the CC BY 4.0 license (

The cingulo-opercular network (CON), dorsal attention network (DAN), and ventral attention network (VAN) are prominently activated during attention tasks. The function of these task-positive networks and their interplay mechanisms in attention is one of the central issues in understanding how the human brain manipulates attention to better adapt to the external environment. This study aimed to clarify the CON, DAN, and VAN’s functional hierarchy by assessing causal interactions. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data from human participants performing a visual-spatial attention task and correlating Granger causal influences with behavioral performance revealed that CON exerts behavior-enhancing influences upon DAN and VAN, indicating a higher level of CON in top-down attention control. By contrast, the VAN exerts a behavior-degrading influence on CON, indicating external disruption of the CON’s control set.

Granger causality
Cingulo-opercular network
Dorsal attention network
Ventral attention network
Fig. 1.
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