When looking around at the world, we can only attend to a limited number of locations. The lateral intraparietal area (LIP) is thought to play a role in guiding both covert attention and eye movements. In this study, we tested the involvement of LIP in both mechanisms with a change detection task. In the task, animals had to indicate whether an element changed during a blank in the trial by making a saccade to it. If no element changed, they had to maintain fixation. We examine how the animal's behavior is biased based on LIP activity prior to the presentation of the stimulus the animal must respond to. When the activity was high, the animal was more likely to make an eye movement toward the stimulus, even if there was no change; when the activity was low, the animal either had a slower reaction time or maintained fixation, even if a change occurred. We conclude that LIP activity is involved in both covert and overt attention, but when decisions about eye movements are to be made, this role takes precedence over guiding covert attention.
Keywords: attention; eye movement; lateral intraparietal area.
Copyright © 2015 the American Physiological Society.