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J Neurophysiol. 2009 Apr;101(4):1813-22. doi: 10.1152/jn.91050.2008. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Time course of attentional modulation in the frontal eye field during curve tracing.

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Department of Physiology, McGill University, 3655 Prom Sir. W. Osler, Montréal QC, H3G 1Y6, Canada.


Neurons in the frontal eye fields (FEFs) register incoming visual information and select visual stimuli that are relevant for behavior. Here we investigated the timing of the visual response and the timing of selection by recording from single FEF neurons in a curve-tracing task that requires shifts of attention followed by an oculomotor response. We found that the behavioral selection signal in area FEF had a latency of 147 ms and that it was delayed substantially relative to the visual response, which occurred 50 ms after stimulus presentation. We compared the FEF responses to activity previously recorded in the primary visual cortex (area V1) during the same task. Visual responses in area V1 preceded the FEF responses, but the latencies of selection signals in areas V1 and FEF were similar. The similarity of timing of selection signals in structures at opposite ends of the visual cortical processing hierarchy supports the view that stimulus selection occurs in an interaction between widely separated cortical regions.

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