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Neuron. 2011 Jun 23;70(6):1205-17. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.04.032.

Feature-based attention in the frontal eye field and area V4 during visual search.

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McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


When we search for a target in a crowded visual scene, we often use the distinguishing features of the target, such as color or shape, to guide our attention and eye movements. To investigate the neural mechanisms of feature-based attention, we simultaneously recorded neural responses in the frontal eye field (FEF) and area V4 while monkeys performed a visual search task. The responses of cells in both areas were modulated by feature attention, independent of spatial attention, and the magnitude of response enhancement was inversely correlated with the number of saccades needed to find the target. However, an analysis of the latency of sensory and attentional influences on responses suggested that V4 provides bottom-up sensory information about stimulus features, whereas the FEF provides a top-down attentional bias toward target features that modulates sensory processing in V4 and that could be used to guide the eyes to a searched-for target.

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