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Nat Neurosci. 2000 Sep;3(9):940-5.

Activity in primary visual cortex predicts performance in a visual detection task.

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Stanford University, Dept. of Psychology, 450 Serra Mall, Bldg. 420/400, Stanford, California 94305-2130, USA.


Visual attention can affect both neural activity and behavior in humans. To quantify possible links between the two, we measured activity in early visual cortex (V1, V2 and V3) during a challenging pattern-detection task. Activity was dominated by a large response that was independent of the presence or absence of the stimulus pattern. The measured activity quantitatively predicted the subject's pattern-detection performance: when activity was greater, the subject was more likely to correctly discern the presence or absence of the pattern. This stimulus-independent activity had several characteristics of visual attention, suggesting that attentional mechanisms modulate activity in early visual cortex, and that this attention-related activity strongly influences performance.

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