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Decision-related activity in the macaque dorsal visual pathway

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alexander Thiele


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Brain areas at higher levels of cortical organization are thought to be more involved in decision processes than are earlier, i.e. lower, sensory areas. Hence, neuronal activity correlated with decisions should vary with an area's position in the cortical hierarchy. To test this proposal, we investigated whether a change in neuronal activity during error trials depends in a systematic way on cortical hierarchical position. While macaque monkeys discriminated the direction of moving visual stimuli, the activity of direction-selective neurons was recorded in four extrastriate visual areas: V3A, the middle temporal area, the middle superior temporal area and the posterior part of the superior temporal polysensory area. Neuronal activity was significantly reduced in all areas when the monkeys made errors in judging the direction of stimuli moving in the preferred direction with low and intermediate luminance contrast. The amount of activity reduction was approximately 50% in all of the visual areas. Thus, the activity on error trials is reduced in early visual processing, independent of the hierarchy in the dorsal visual pathway. The activity reduction depended on stimulus contrast and the direction of the decision relative to the stimulus motion. It was profound and significant in all areas at low stimulus contrast. However, it was nonsignificant at high stimulus contrast. Our data suggest that activity reduction on error trials is due to lack of attention in association with stimulus expectation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thiele A; Distler C; Hoffmann KP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Neuroscience

Year: 1999

Volume: 11

Issue: 6

Pages: 2044-2058

ISSN (print): 0953-816X

ISSN (electronic): 1460-9568

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1046/j.1460-9568.1999.00630.x


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