Top-Down Neuroscience

From OptimalScience

Summary and Support

  • A study which analyses top-down and bottom-up attention indicates the following[1]:
    • Given the brain’s limited capacity to process all external sensory stimuli at a given moment, the brain, based on the immediately present contingencies, depends on the cognitive process of attention in order to focus neural resources.
    • The abovementioned cognitive process of attention can be divided into two separate functions as follows:
      • Bottom-up attention:
        • This refers to attentional guidance exclusively via external factors to stimuli which are salient on account of their inherent properties compared to the background.
      • Top-down attention
        • This refers to the internal direction of attention based on willful plans, current goals and prior knowledge.
    • Additionally, attention impacts the mean neuronal firing rate, the variability thereof, and its correlation throughout neurons.
    • Even though different processes facilitate the guidance of the two separate functions of attention, the frontoparietal network, which is a common neural apparatus, plays a vital role in both these functional processes of attention.


Ayesh Perera