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J Neurophysiol. 2011 Sep;106(3):1179-90. doi: 10.1152/jn.01054.2010. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Modulation of shifting receptive field activity in frontal eye field by visual salience.

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Laboratory of Sensorimotor Research, National Eye Institute, 49 Convent Drive, Bethesda, MD 20982-4435, USA.


In the monkey frontal eye field (FEF), the sensitivity of some neurons to visual stimulation changes just before a saccade. Sensitivity shifts from the spatial location of its current receptive field (RF) to the location of that field after the saccade is completed (the future field, FF). These shifting RFs are thought to contribute to the stability of visual perception across saccades, and in this study we investigated whether the salience of the FF stimulus alters the magnitude of FF activity. We reduced the salience of the usually single flashed stimulus by adding other visual stimuli. We isolated 171 neurons in the FEF of 2 monkeys and did experiments on 50 that had FF activity. In 30% of these, that activity was higher before salience was reduced by adding stimuli. The mean magnitude reduction was 16%. We then determined whether the shifting RFs were more frequent in the central visual field, which would be expected if vision across saccades were only stabilized for the visual field near the fovea. We found no evidence of any skewing of the frequency of shifting receptive fields (or the effects of salience) toward the central visual field. We conclude that the salience of the FF stimulus makes a substantial contribution to the magnitude of FF activity in FEF. In so far as FF activity contributes to visual stability, the salience of the stimulus is probably more important than the region of the visual field in which it falls for determining which objects remain perceptually stable across saccades.

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