Attraction of position preference by spatial attention throughout human visual cortex

Neuron. 2014 Oct 1;84(1):227-237. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2014.08.047. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Voluntary spatial attention concentrates neural resources at the attended location. Here, we examined the effects of spatial attention on spatial position selectivity in humans. We measured population receptive fields (pRFs) using high-field functional MRI (fMRI) (7T) while subjects performed an attention-demanding task at different locations. We show that spatial attention attracts pRF preferred positions across the entire visual field, not just at the attended location. This global change in pRF preferred positions systematically increases up the visual hierarchy. We model these pRF preferred position changes as an interaction between two components: an attention field and a pRF without the influence of attention. This computational model suggests that increasing effects of attention up the hierarchy result primarily from differences in pRF size and that the attention field is similar across the visual hierarchy. A similar attention field suggests that spatial attention transforms different neural response selectivities throughout the visual hierarchy in a similar manner.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*
  • Young Adult