While dichotic listening (DL) was originally intended to measure bottom-up selective attention, it has also become a tool for measuring top-down selective attention. This study investigated the brain regions related to top-down selective and divided attention DL tasks and a 2-back task using alphanumeric and Japanese numeric sounds. Thirty-six healthy participants underwent near-infrared spectroscopy scanning while performing a top-down selective attentional DL task, a top-down divided attentional DL task, and a 2-back task. Pearson’s correlations were calculated to show relationships between oxy-Hb concentration in each brain region and the score of each cognitive task. Different brain regions were activated during the DL and 2-back tasks. Brain regions activated in the top-down selective attention DL task were the left inferior prefrontal gyrus and left pars opercularis. The left temporopolar area was activated in the top-down divided attention DL task, and the left frontopolar area and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were activated in the 2-back task. As further evidence for the finding that each task measured different cognitive and brain area functions, neither the percentages of correct answers for the three tasks nor the response times for the selective attentional task and the divided attentional task were correlated to one another. Thus, the DL and 2-back tasks used in this study can assess multiple areas of cognitive, brain-related dysfunction to explore their relationship to different psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders.
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