Send to

Choose Destination
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Nov 26;93(24):13494-9.

Neural mechanisms for visual memory and their role in attention.

Author information

Laboratory of Neuropsychology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4415, USA.


Recent studies show that neuronal mechanisms for learning and memory both dynamically modulate and permanently alter the representations of visual stimuli in the adult monkey cortex. Three commonly observed neuronal effects in memory-demanding tasks are repetition suppression, enhancement, and delay activity. In repetition suppression, repeated experience with the same visual stimulus leads to both short- and long-term suppression of neuronal responses in subpopulations of visual neurons. Enhancement works in an opposite fashion, in that neuronal responses are enhanced for objects with learned behavioral relevance. Delay activity is found in tasks in which animals are required to actively hold specific information "on-line" for short periods. Repetition suppression appears to be an intrinsic property of visual cortical areas such as inferior temporal cortex and is thought to be important for perceptual learning and priming. By contrast, enhancement and delay activity may depend on feedback to temporal cortex from prefrontal cortex and are thought to be important for working memory. All of these mnemonic effects on neuronal responses bias the competitive interactions that take place between stimulus representations in the cortex when there is more than one stimulus in the visual field. As a result, memory will often determine the winner of these competitions and, thus, will determine which stimulus is attended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center