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J Neurosci. 2004 Feb 25;24(8):1833-8.

A rapid and precise on-response in posterior parietal cortex.

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Mahoney Center for Brain and Behavior, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, New York 10032, USA.


The activity of neurons in the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) of the monkey predicts the monkey's allocation of spatial attention. We show here that despite being relatively high within the visual hierarchy, neurons in LIP have extremely short and precise visual latencies. Mean latency was 45.2 msec; the timing precision of the onset response was usually better than 4 msec. The majority of neurons had a pause in response after an initial burst, followed by more sustained visual activity. Previous attention allocation had no effect on either the latency or magnitude of the initial burst, but produced clear effects on the magnitude of the later sustained activity. Together, these data indicate that the initial burst in LIP visual response reflects an uncontaminated sensory signal. Information about stimulus onset is transmitted rapidly through the visual system to LIP; the on-response has a higher speed and temporal precision than realized previously. This information could be used to orient attention to novel objects in the visual environment rapidly and reliably.

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