Evidence for an attentional priority map in inferotemporal cortex

TitleEvidence for an attentional priority map in inferotemporal cortex
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsStemmann, H, Freiwald, WA
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Pagination23797 - 23805
Date Published11/2019

From incoming sensory information, our brains make selections according to current behavioral goals. This process, selective attention, is controlled by parietal and frontal areas. Here, we show that another brain area, posterior inferotemporal cortex (PITd), also exhibits the defining properties of attentional control. We discovered this area with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during an attentive motion discrimination task. Single-cell recordings from PITd revealed strong attentional modulation across 3 attention tasks yet no tuning to task-relevant stimulus features, like motion direction or color. Instead, PITd neurons closely tracked the subject’s attention state and predicted upcoming errors of attentional selection. Furthermore, artificial electrical PITd stimulation controlled the location of attentional selection without altering feature discrimination. These are the defining properties of a feature-blind priority map encoding the locus of attention. Together, these results suggest area PITd, located strategically to gather information about object properties, as an attentional priority map.

Short TitleProc Natl Acad Sci USA

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