Growing evidence suggests that a more complete understanding of cortical function requires developing cognitive models that are predictive of multivariate neural behavior (e.g., Raichle, 2000; Shulman et al., 1997). Towards this end, one approach is to interpret population-specific activity in cortex from the perspective of capacity theories of selective attention (e.g., Handy, Hopfinger, & Mangun, in press). In brief, the model is founded on the ideas that (1) processing capacity is limited and (2) different processes may draw on different capacities (e.g., Boles & Law 1998; Polson & Friedman, 1988; see Kramer & Spinks, 1991). Testable hypotheses are then based on whether manipulations of process-specific load will lead to negative or positive covariation between different function-related clusters of activation in cortex—the predicted pattern depends on whether or not the clusters in question are assumed to share a common processing capacity. Expanding on these ideas, the current article addresses several recent issues that have arisen in the effort to apply capacity theory to the study of cortical function.

This content is only available as a PDF.