Role of inferior frontal junction (ifj) in the control of feature versus spatial attention

Sreenivasan Meyyappan, Abhijit Rajan, George R. Mangun, Mingzhou Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Feature-based visual attention refers to preferential selection and processing of visual stimuli based on their nonspatial attributes, such as color or shape. Recent studies have highlighted the inferior frontal junction (IFJ) as a control region for feature but not spatial attention. However, the extent to which IFJ contributes to spatial versus feature attention control remains a topic of debate. We investigated in humans of both sexes the role of IFJ in the control of feature versus spatial attention in a cued visual spatial (attend-left or attend-right) and feature (attend-red or attend-green) attention task using fMRI. Analyzing cue-related fMRI using both univariate activation and multivoxel pattern analysis, we found the following results in IFJ. First, in line with some prior studies, the univariate activations were not different between feature and spatial attentional control. Second, in contrast, the multivoxel pattern analysis decoding accuracy was above chance level for feature attention (attend-red vs attend-green) but not for spatial attention (attend-left vs attend-right). Third, while the decoding accuracy for feature attention was above chance level during attentional control in the cue-to-target interval, it was not during target processing. Fourth, the right IFJ and visual cortex (V4) were observed to be functionally connected during feature but not during spatial attention control, and this functional connectivity was positively associated with subsequent attentional selection of targets in V4, as well as with behavioral performance. These results support a model in which IFJ plays a crucial role in topdown control of visual feature but not visual spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8065-8074
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2021


  • Feature attention
  • FMRI
  • Inferior frontal junction
  • MVPA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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