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J Neurosci. 2002 Jun 1;22(11):4675-85.

Priming in macaque frontal cortex during popout visual search: feature-based facilitation and location-based inhibition of return.

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Laboratory of Neuropsychology, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


In popout search, humans and monkeys are affected by trial-to-trial changes in stimulus features and target location. The neuronal mechanisms underlying such sequential effects have not been examined. Single neurons were recorded in the frontal eye field (FEF) of monkeys performing a popout search during which stimulus features and target position changed unpredictably across trials. Like previous studies, repetition of stimulus features improved performance. This feature-based facilitation of return was manifested in the target discrimination process in FEF: neurons discriminated the target from distractors earlier and better with repetition of stimulus features, corresponding to improvements in saccade latency and accuracy, respectively. The neuronal target selection was mediated by both target enhancement and distractor suppression. In contrast to the repetition of features, repetition of target position increased saccade latency. This location-based inhibition of return was reflected in the neuronal discrimination process but not in the baseline activity in FEF. These results show adjustments of the target selection process in FEF corresponding to and therefore possibly contributing to changes in performance across trials caused by sequential regularities in display properties.

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