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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Apr;17(4):918-28. Epub 2006 May 24.

Modulation of visual responses in macaque frontal eye field during covert tracking of invisible targets.

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Department of Psychiatry, Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, David Mahoney Center for Brain and Behavior Research, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the interaction between internal representations of invisible moving targets and visual responses of neurons in frontal eye fields (FEFs). Monkeys were trained to make saccades to the extrapolated position of a target that was temporarily rendered invisible for variable durations as if it had passed behind an occluder. Flashed, task-irrelevant visual probe stimuli were used to study the visual responsiveness of FEF neurons during this task. Probes were flashed at various times and locations during the occlusion interval. Net changes in neuronal activity were obtained by comparing the activity on trials with probes with randomly interleaved trials without any probe. Most neurons showed an increase in firing rate in response to the probe, but some showed a decrease. Both types of responses were enhanced when the invisible target moved toward the receptive field (RF) as compared with trials on which the target moved away from the RF. Some neurons showed a spatial shift in the visual response during the occlusion interval. For cells that were excited by the probe, the shift tended to be correlated with the direction of motion of the target, whereas for cells that were inhibited the shift tended to be in the opposite direction. These results suggest that the role of FEF in predicting invisible target motion includes a sensory/perceptual component.

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