Popout modulates focal attention in the primary visual cortex

Neuroimage. 2004 Jun;22(2):574-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.01.031.


The influence of context-dependent interactions on attention-related neural activity was studied in the human primary visual cortex (V1) with event-related fMRI. Retinotopic field-sign mapping was used to determine the localization of V1 with respect to adjacent retinotopic areas. Observers reported the orientation of a Gabor patch at pre-cued extrafoveal locations when it was salient among distractor Gabors and when it was not. Saliency was caused by local orientation contrast between Gabors-a mechanism that is thought to arise from context-dependent interactions in the V1 proper. A comparison of the attention-related BOLD response for salient and non-salient stimuli in V1 revealed that salient Gabors caused a significantly smaller BOLD response than non-salient Gabors. This differential effect was not observed in higher-order visual areas (V3/V3A, MT+/LO, IPS). When attention was not focused onto the target, the size of the BOLD response was generally reduced in all visual areas, and no difference was seen in V1 for salient and non-salient Gabors. These findings suggest that contextual interactions underlying saliency influence attentional modulations in V1 and support the view that perceptual and attentional mechanisms share neural circuits at this early stage of visual processing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Cues
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Hemodynamics / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retina / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology