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Neuron. 2010 Apr 15;66(1):126-37. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.03.014.

Privileged processing of the straight-ahead direction in primate area V1.

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Université de Toulouse, UPS, Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, Toulouse, France.


Gaze direction modulates the gain of neurons in most of the visual cortex, including the primary visual (V1) area. These gain modulations are thought to support a mechanism involved in the spatial localization of objects. In the present study, we show that part of them may reflect an additional function: enhancing the visual processing of the objects located straight ahead. Using single- and multiunit recordings in behaving macaques, we found that in peripheral V1, the gain of most neurons increases as their receptive fields (RF) are brought closer to the straight-ahead direction by changing the direction of gaze. No such tendency was observed in central V1, although the influence of gaze direction is similar in term of strength. This previously unknown organization of the gaze-related gain modulations might insure that objects located straight ahead still receive a privileged processing during eccentric fixation, reflecting the ecological importance of this particular egocentric direction.

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