Dissociable neuronal substrates of visual feature attention and working memory

TitleDissociable neuronal substrates of visual feature attention and working memory
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsMendoza-Halliday, D, Xu, H, Azevedo, FAC, Desimone, R
Pagination850 - 863.e6
Date Published01/2024

Attention and working memory (WM) are distinct cognitive functions, yet given their close interactions, it is often assumed that they share the same neuronal mechanisms. We show that in macaques performing a WM-guided feature attention task, the activity of most neurons in areas middle temporal (MT), medial superior temporal (MST), lateral intraparietal (LIP), and posterior lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC-p) displays attentional modulation or WM coding and not both. One area thought to play a role in both functions is LPFC-p. To test this, we optogenetically inactivated LPFC-p bilaterally during different task periods. Attention period inactivation reduced attentional modulation in LPFC-p, MST, and LIP neurons and impaired task performance. In contrast, WM period inactivation did not affect attentional modulation or performance and minimally affected WM coding. Our results suggest that feature attention and WM have dissociable neuronal substrates and that LPFC-p plays a critical role in feature attention, but not in WM.

Short TitleNeuron

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