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Spatial integration and its moderation by attention and acetylcholine

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Mark Roberts, Professor Alexander Thiele


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Attention is often regarded as a mechanism by which attended objects become perceptually more salient, akin to increasing their contrast. We demonstrate by means of human psychophysics that attention is better described as a mechanism that reduces contextual integration, thereby ensuring that task irrelevant information is prevented from influencing the processing of task relevant information. To investigate possible neuronal bases of this phenomenon we studied the effects of attention on spatial integration in V1 of the macaque monkey. In line with our psychophysical results, attention directed to parafoveal locations reduced spatial integration by reducing the summation area of V1 neurons. Additionally we measured length tuning in V1 in the presence and absence of externally applied acetylcholine in V1 of the marmoset monkey. The effects of acetylcholine application and attention were largely similar. Acetylcholine reduced spatial integration by reducing the neuron's summation area. These data demonstrate that attention can alter perceptual and neuronal spatial integration, and that acetylcholine might contribute to task dependent receptive field dynamics.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Roberts MJ, Thiele A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Bioscience

Year: 2008

Volume: 13

Issue: 10

Pages: 3742-3759

ISSN (print): 1093-9946

ISSN (electronic): 1094-3935

Publisher: Frontiers in Bioscience


DOI: 10.2741/2963


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