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Nature. 1999 Mar 18;398(6724):239-42.

Gaze direction controls response gain in primary visual-cortex neurons.

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Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Faculté de Médecine de Rangueil, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France.


To localize objects in space, the brain needs to combine information about the position of the stimulus on the retinae with information about the location of the eyes in their orbits. Interaction between these two types of information occurs in several cortical areas, but the role of the primary visual cortex (area V1) in this process has remained unclear. Here we show that, for half the cells recorded in area V1 of behaving monkeys, the classically described visual responses are strongly modulated by gaze direction. Specifically, we find that selectivity for horizontal retinal disparity-the difference in the position of a stimulus on each retina which relates to relative object distance-and for stimulus orientation may be present at a given gaze direction, but be absent or poorly expressed at another direction. Shifts in preferred disparity also occurred in several neurons. These neural changes were most often present at the beginning of the visual response, suggesting a feedforward gain control by eye position signals. Cortical neural processes for encoding information about the three-dimensional position of a stimulus in space therefore start as early as area V1.

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