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Additive Effects of Attention and Stimulus Contrast in Primary Visual Cortex

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alexander Thiele, Dr Louise Delicato, Jose Herrero



Previous studies have proposed a variety of mechanisms by which attention influences neuronal activity. Here we investigated the mechanisms of attention in the striate cortex of monkeys performing a spatial or an object-based attention task at various stimulus contrasts and compared neuronal contrast response functions with and without attention. Our data are best described by an "additive" interaction: The influence of attention on the neuronal response is relatively independent of the stimulus contrast, at least when the stimulus has enough contrast to become visible. This shows that attention adds to the neuronal responses in a largely contrast invariant manner. These data support recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies and suggest that feedback from higher areas exerts a constant attentional drive that is mostly task not stimulus driven.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thiele A, Pooresmaeili A, Delicato LS, Herrero JL, Roelfsema PR

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cerebral Cortex

Year: 2009

Volume: 19

Issue: 12

Pages: 2970-2981

Date deposited: 19/03/2010

ISSN (print): 1047-3211

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2199

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhp070


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Funder referenceFunder name
027198European Union
070380/Z/03/ZWellcome Trust
BBS/B/09325Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council