Featural and temporal attention selectively enhance task-appropriate representations in human primary visual cortex.

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Nature communications, ISSN: 2041-1723, Vol: 5, Page: 5643

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Warren, Scott G, Yacoub, Essa, Ghose, Geoffrey M
Springer Nature, Nature Research
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, Medicine
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Our perceptions are often shaped by focusing our attention towards specific features or periods of time irrespective of location. Here we explore the physiological bases of these non-spatial forms of attention by imaging brain activity while subjects perform a challenging change-detection task. The task employs a continuously varying visual stimulus that, for any moment in time, selectively activates functionally distinct subpopulations of primary visual cortex (V1) neurons. When subjects are cued to the timing and nature of the change, the mapping of orientation preference across V1 systematically shifts towards the cued stimulus just prior to its appearance. A simple linear model can explain this shift: attentional changes are selectively targeted towards neural subpopulations, representing the attended feature at the times the feature was anticipated. Our results suggest that featural attention is mediated by a linear change in the responses of task-appropriate neurons across cortex during appropriate periods of time.

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