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Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(12):2411-20. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

Neural correlates of reward and attention in macaque area LIP.

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Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Saccade reaction times decrease and the frequency of target choices increases with the size of rewards delivered for orienting to a particular visual target. Similarly, increasing rewards for orienting to a visual target enhances neuronal responses in the macaque lateral intraparietal area (LIP), as well as other brain areas. These observations raise several questions. First, are reward-related modulations in neuronal activity in LIP, as well as other areas, spatially specific or more global in nature? Second, to what extent does reward modulation of neuronal activity in area LIP reflect changes in visual rather than motor processing? And third, to what degree are reward-related modulations in LIP activity independent of performance-related modulations thought to reflect changes in attention? Here we show that increasing the size of fluid rewards in blocks reduced saccade reaction times and improved performance in monkeys performing a peripherally-cued saccade task. LIP neurons responded to visual cues spatially segregated from the saccade target, and for many neurons visual responses were systematically modulated by expected reward size. Neuronal responses also were positively correlated with reaction times independent of reward size, consistent with re-orienting of attention to the saccade target. These observations suggest that motivation and attention independently contribute to the strength of sustained visual responses in LIP. Our data thus implicate LIP in the integration of the sensory, motor, and motivational variables that guide orienting.

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