A Source for Feature-Based Attention in the Prefrontal Cortex

Neuron. 2015 Nov 18;88(4):832-44. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.10.001. Epub 2015 Nov 8.


In cluttered scenes, we can use feature-based attention to quickly locate a target object. To understand how feature attention is used to find and select objects for action, we focused on the ventral prearcuate (VPA) region of prefrontal cortex. In a visual search task, VPA cells responded selectively to search cues, maintained their feature selectivity throughout the delay and subsequent saccades, and discriminated the search target in their receptive fields with a time course earlier than in FEF or IT cortex. Inactivation of VPA impaired the animals' ability to find targets, and simultaneous recordings in FEF revealed that the effects of feature attention were eliminated while leaving the effects of spatial attention in FEF intact. Altogether, the results suggest that VPA neurons compute the locations of objects with the features sought and send this information to FEF to guide eye movements to those relevant stimuli.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / cytology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Saccades / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*