Network dynamics of attention during a naturalistic behavioral paradigm

René Weber, Bradly Alicea, Richard Huskey, Klaus Mathiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


This study investigates the dynamics of attention during continuous, naturalistic interactions in a video game. Specifically, the effect of repeated distraction on a continuous primary task is related to a functional model of network connectivity. We introduce the Non-linear Attentional Saturation Hypothesis (NASH), which predicts that effective connectivity within attentional networks increases non-linearly with decreasing distraction over time, and exhibits dampening at critical parameter values. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data collected using a naturalistic behavioral paradigm coupled with an interactive video game is used to test the hypothesis. As predicted, connectivity in pre-defined regions corresponding to attentional networks increases as distraction decreases. Moreover, the functional relationship between connectivity and distraction is convex, that is, network connectivity somewhat increases as distraction decreases during the continuous primary task, however, connectivity increases considerably as distraction falls below critical levels. This result characterizes the non-linear pattern of connectivity within attentional networks, particularly with respect to their dynamics during behavior. These results are also summarized in the form of a network structure analysis, which underscores the role of various nodes in regulating the global network state. In conclusion, we situate the implications of this research in the context of cognitive complexity and an emerging theory of flow during media exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number182
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
StatePublished - 4 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Weber, Alicea, Huskey and Mathiak.


  • Attentional networks
  • Cognitive dynamics
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Interactivity
  • Network neuroscience
  • Video games


Dive into the research topics of 'Network dynamics of attention during a naturalistic behavioral paradigm'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this