Top-down influences on visual processing

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 May;14(5):350-63. doi: 10.1038/nrn3476. Epub 2013 Apr 18.


Re-entrant or feedback pathways between cortical areas carry rich and varied information about behavioural context, including attention, expectation, perceptual tasks, working memory and motor commands. Neurons receiving such inputs effectively function as adaptive processors that are able to assume different functional states according to the task being executed. Recent data suggest that the selection of particular inputs, representing different components of an association field, enable neurons to take on different functional roles. In this Review, we discuss the various top-down influences exerted on the visual cortical pathways and highlight the dynamic nature of the receptive field, which allows neurons to carry information that is relevant to the current perceptual demands.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention
  • Humans
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / cytology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*