LPP seminar: Kimmo Alho, Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki & Advanced Magnetic Imaging Centre, Aalto University

In our recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study (Moisala et al., Front. Hum. Neurosci., 2015), young adult participants (N = 18) were presented with concurrent spoken and written sentences and they were to attend to either sentence or to both of them. Dividing attention between the spoken and written sentences was associated with bilateral activity enhancements in dorsolateral and -medial prefrontal areas. These areas showed also smaller activity enhancements during selective attention to speech or text at the presence of task-irrelevant text and speech, respectively, suggesting that dealing with distracting information involves the same brain areas as dividing attention. In our subsequent study applying the same experimental paradigm (Moisala et al., NeuroImage, 2016), we found in healthy adolescents and young adults (N=149) more right prefrontal activity and less accurate performance during attention to speech or text at the presence of irrelevant text or speech, respectively, the more the participants multitasked in their daily life. These results suggest that habitual multitasking may lead to enhanced distractibility. Yet, in another experimental condition (Moisala et al., Brain Res., 2016), the adolescent and young adult participants (N = 167) showed better performance and higher dorsolateral prefrontal activity during a demanding bimodal verbal working-memory task the more they played computer and video games in the daily life, suggesting that computer gaming may enhance attention and memory skills. Moreover, comparison of results from these attention and working-memory studies (Moisala et al., submitted) suggests development of prefrontal executive functions during adolescence. In our very recent study (Leminen et al., in preparation), we investigate selective attention to speech in more naturalistic conditions where the participants see the facial movements of speakers attended selectively at the presence of irrelevant speech on the background. According to our preliminary results, higher activity is observed in superior temporal and inferior parietal areas for higher quality of attended speech (natural vs. noise-vocoded speech) and for more perceivable speech-related facial movements (non-masked vs. masked). Moreover, right superior parietal and dorsolateral prefrontal areas show higher activity for lower speech quality suggesting enhanced demand for attention.