Electrical microstimulation of FEF (FEF-EM) modulates neuronal activity in area V4 (Moore and Armstrong, 2003) and elicits functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) activations in visual cortex in a bottom-up dependent manner (Ekstrom et al., 2008). Here we test the hypothesis that FEF-EM-induced modulations of fMRI activity are also function of task demands, which would suggest top-down dependent gating of FEF signals in early visual cortex. We scanned two monkeys performing a visually guided saccade task; a passive fixation task with a very similar visual display; and a passive fixation task without peripheral dots. We found increased effects of FEF-EM on fMRI-activity in visual cortex during saccades compared to fixation, indicating that the FEF-EM induced modulation is task-dependent. Finally, the effect of FEF-EM is mainly present in voxels which were less activated by visual stimuli in the absence of electrical stimulation. Our results show that the FEF-EM-induced pattern of activation in early visual cortex is topographically specific and more pronounced during increased task demands. These results fit with models suggesting that FEF is an important source modulating activity in early sensory cortex and that these influences can be enhanced by coincident bottom-up or top-down signals.
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