Midbrain activity shapes high-level visual properties in the primate temporal cortex

Neuron. 2021 Feb 17;109(4):690-699.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.11.023. Epub 2020 Dec 17.


Recent fMRI experiments identified an attention-related region in the macaque temporal cortex, here called the floor of the superior temporal sulcus (fSTS), as the primary cortical target of superior colliculus (SC) activity. However, it remains unclear which aspects of attention are processed by fSTS neurons and how or why these might depend on SC activity. Here, we show that SC inactivation decreases attentional modulations in fSTS neurons by increasing their activity for ignored stimuli in addition to decreasing their activity for attended stimuli. Neurons in the fSTS also exhibit event-related activity during attention tasks linked to detection performance, and this link is eliminated during SC inactivation. Finally, fSTS neurons respond selectively to particular visual objects, and this selectivity is reduced markedly during SC inactivation. These diverse, high-level properties of fSTS neurons all involve visual signals that carry behavioral relevance. Their dependence on SC activity could reflect a circuit that prioritizes cortical processing of events detected subcortically.

Keywords: attentional modulation; change detection; detection activity; object recognition; object selectivity; selective attention; subcortical pathways; superior colliculus; superior temporal sulcus; temporal cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Mesencephalon / diagnostic imaging
  • Mesencephalon / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Temporal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Visual Fields / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*