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Cereb Cortex. 2001 Aug;11(8):761-72.

Responses of neurons in macaque area V4 during memory-guided visual search.

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Laboratory of Neuropsychology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, 49 Convent Drive, Building 49, Room 1B80, Bethesda, MD 20892-4415, USA.


In a typical scene with many different objects, attentional mechanisms are needed to select relevant objects for visual processing and control over behavior. To test the role of area V4 in the selection of objects based on non-spatial features, we recorded from V4 neurons in the monkey, using a visual search paradigm. A cue stimulus was presented at the center of gaze, followed by a blank delay period. After the delay, a two-stimulus array was presented extrafoveally, and the monkey was rewarded for detecting the target stimulus matching the cue. The array was composed of one 'good' stimulus (effective in driving the cell when presented alone) and one 'poor' stimulus (ineffective in driving the cell when presented alone). When the choice array was presented in the receptive field (RF) of the neuron, many cells showed suppressive interactions between the stimuli as well as strong attention effects. Within 150--200 ms of array onset, responses to the array were determined by the target stimulus. If the target was the good stimulus, the response to the array became equal to the response to the good stimulus presented alone. If the target was the poor stimulus, the response approached the response to that stimulus presented alone. Thus the influence of the nontarget stimulus was filtered out. These effects were reduced or eliminated when the poor stimulus was located outside the RF and, therefore, no longer competing for the cell's response. Overall, the results support a 'biased competition' model of attention, according to which objects in the visual field compete for representation in the cortex, and this competition is biased in favor of the behaviorally relevant object.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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