Topographical Organization of Attentional, Social, and Memory Processes in the Human Temporoparietal Cortex
The temporoparietal junction (TPJ) is activated in association with a large range of functions, including social cognition, episodic memory retrieval, and attentional reorienting. An ongoing debate is whether the TPJ performs an overarching, domain-general computation, or whether functions reside in domain-specific subdivisions. We scanned subjects with fMRI during five tasks known to activate the TPJ, probing social, attentional, and memory functions, and used data-driven parcellation (independent component analysis) to isolate task-related functional processes in the bilateral TPJ. We found that one dorsal component in the right TPJ, which was connected with the frontoparietal control network, was activated in all of the tasks. Other TPJ subregions were specific for attentional reorienting, oddball target detection, or social attribution of belief. The TPJ components that participated in attentional reorienting and oddball target detection appeared spatially separated, but both were connected with the ventral attention network. The TPJ component that participated in the theory-of-mind task was part of the default-mode network. Further, we found that the BOLD response in the domain-general dorsal component had a longer latency than responses in the domain-specific components, suggesting an involvement in distinct, perhaps postperceptual, computations. These findings suggest that the TPJ performs both domain-general and domain-specific computations that reside within spatially distinct functional components.