Top-down visual attention improves perception of selected stimuli and that improvement is reflected in the neural activity at many stages throughout the visual system. Recent studies of top-down attention have elaborated on the signatures of its effects within visual cortex and have begun identifying its causal basis. Evidence from these studies suggests that the correlates of spatial attention exhibited by neurons within the visual system originate from a distributed network of structures involved in the programming of saccadic eye movements. We summarize this evidence and discuss its relationship to the neural mechanisms of spatial working memory.
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