Neuromodulation of Attention

Alexander Thiele, Mark A. Bellgrove

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review


Attention is critical to high-level cognition and attention deficits are a hallmark of neurologic and neuropsychiatric disorders. Although years of research indicates that distinct neuromodulators influence attentional control, a mechanistic account that traverses levels of analysis (cells, circuits, behavior) is missing. However, such an account is critical to guide the development of next-generation pharmacotherapies aimed at forestalling or remediating the global burden associated with disorders of attention. Here, we summarize current neuroscientific understanding of how attention affects single neurons and networks of neurons. We then review key results that have informed our understanding of how neuromodulation shapes these neuron and network properties and thereby enables the appropriate allocation of attention to relevant external or internal events. Finally, we highlight areas where we believe hypotheses can be formulated and tackled experimentally in the near future, thereby critically increasing our mechanistic understanding of how attention is implemented at the cellular and network levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-785
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2018


  • Attention
  • Pharmacology
  • Top-down
  • neuromodulators
  • Attractor networks
  • Population coding

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