It has commonly been assumed that the many separate areas of the visual system perform modular analyses, each restricted to a single attribute of the image. A recent paper advocates a radically different approach, where all areas in the hierarchy analyse all attributes of the image to extract perceptually relevant decisions. (+info)
Competitive mechanisms subserve attention in macaque areas V2 and V4.
It is well established that attention modulates visual processing in extrastriate cortex. However, the underlying neural mechanisms are unknown. A consistent observation is that attention has its greatest impact on neuronal responses when multiple stimuli appear together within a cell's receptive field. One way to explain this is to assume that multiple stimuli activate competing populations of neurons and that attention biases this competition in favor of the attended stimulus. In the absence of competing stimuli, there is no competition to be resolved. Accordingly, attention has a more limited effect on the neuronal response to a single stimulus. To test this interpretation, we measured the responses of neurons in macaque areas V2 and V4 using a behavioral paradigm that allowed us to isolate automatic sensory processing mechanisms from attentional effects. First, we measured each cell's response to a single stimulus presented alone inside the receptive field or paired with a second receptive field stimulus, while the monkey attended to a location outside the receptive field. Adding the second stimulus typically caused the neuron's response to move toward the response that was elicited by the second stimulus alone. Then, we directed the monkey's attention to one element of the pair. This drove the neuron's response toward the response elicited when the attended stimulus appeared alone. These findings are consistent with the idea that attention biases competitive interactions among neurons, causing them to respond primarily to the attended stimulus. A quantitative neural model of attention is proposed to account for these results. (+info)
A genetic approach to visualization of multisynaptic neural pathways using plant lectin transgene.
The wiring patterns among various types of neurons via specific synaptic connections are the basis of functional logic employed by the brain for information processing. This study introduces a powerful method of analyzing the neuronal connectivity patterns by delivering a tracer selectively to specific types of neurons while simultaneously transsynaptically labeling their target neurons. We developed a novel genetic approach introducing cDNA for a plant lectin, wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), as a transgene under the control of specific promoter elements. Using this method, we demonstrate three examples of visualization of specific transsynaptic neural pathways: the mouse cerebellar efferent pathways, the mouse olfactory pathways, and the Drosophila visual pathways. This strategy should greatly facilitate studies on the anatomical and functional organization of the developing and mature nervous system. (+info)
The neuronal basis of a sensory analyser, the acridid movement detector system. I. Effects of simple incremental and decremental stimuli in light and dark adapted animals.
1. The response of the movement detector (MD) system to proportionally constant incremental and decremental stimuli has been studied at various degrees of light and dark adaptation. Action potentials in the descending contralateral movement detector neurone were taken as the indicator of response. 2. Over a range of at least six log10 units of adapting luminance, the MD system behaves as an ON/OFF unit, giving responses to both incremental and decremental changes in the illumination of a 5 degrees target. 3. With increasing amplitudes of stimuli, both the ON and OFF responses saturate rapidly. Saturation is reached sooner at higher levels of light adaptation. At all levels of light adaptation, the OFF response is greater than the ON. The ratio for saturating stimuli is approximately constant at around 3:2. 4. At the brightest adapting luminances used (20 000 cd/m2) the ON response is reduced but not lost. At the lowest (0-004 cd/m2) the OFF response to a 5 degrees disc fails, but can be regained by increasing the test area to 10 degrees. 5. From what is known of the retina of locusts and other insects, it is thought that light and dark adaptation in the MD system can be adequately explained by events at the retinula cell. (+info)
Short-latency vergence eye movements induced by radial optic flow in humans: dependence on ambient vergence level.
Radial patterns of optic flow, such as those experienced by moving observers who look in the direction of heading, evoke vergence eye movements at short latency. We have investigated the dependence of these responses on the ambient vergence level. Human subjects faced a large tangent screen onto which two identical random-dot patterns were back-projected. A system of crossed polarizers ensured that each eye saw only one of the patterns, with mirror galvanometers to control the horizontal positions of the images and hence the vergence angle between the two eyes. After converging the subject's eyes at one of several distances ranging from 16.7 cm to infinity, both patterns were replaced with new ones (using a system of shutters and two additional projectors) so as to simulate the radial flow associated with a sudden 4% change in viewing distance with the focus of expansion/contraction imaged in or very near both foveas. Radial-flow steps induced transient vergence at latencies of 80-100 ms, expansions causing increases in convergence and contractions the converse. Based on the change in vergence 90-140 ms after the onset of the steps, responses were proportional to the preexisting vergence angle (and hence would be expected to be inversely proportional to viewing distance under normal conditions). We suggest that this property assists the observer who wants to fixate ahead while passing through a visually cluttered area (e.g., a forest) and so wants to avoid making vergence responses to the optic flow created by the nearby objects in the periphery. (+info)
Retinotopic mapping of lateral geniculate nucleus in humans using functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Subcortical nuclei in the thalamus, which play an important role in many functions of the human brain, provide challenging targets for functional mapping with neuroimaging techniques because of their small sizes and deep locations. In this study, we explore the capability of high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging at 4 Tesla for mapping the retinotopic organization in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Our results show that the hemifield visual stimulation only activates LGN in the contralateral hemisphere, and the lower-field and upper-field visual stimulations activate the superior and inferior portion of LGN, respectively. These results reveal a similar retinotopic organization between the human and nonhuman primate LGN and between LGN and the primary visual cortex. We conclude that high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging is capable of functional mapping of suborganizations in small nuclei together with cortical activation. This will have an impact for studying the thalamocortical networks in the human brain. (+info)
The predictive value of changes in effective connectivity for human learning.
During learning, neural responses decrease over repeated exposure to identical stimuli. This repetition suppression is thought to reflect a progressive optimization of neuronal responses elicited by the task. Functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to study the neural basis of associative learning of visual objects and their locations. As expected, activation in specialized cortical areas decreased with time. However, with path analysis it was shown that, in parallel to this adaptation, increases in effective connectivity occurred between distinct cortical systems specialized for spatial and object processing. The time course of these plastic changes was highly correlated with individual learning performance, suggesting that interactions between brain areas underlie associative learning. (+info)
Visual motion analysis for pursuit eye movements in area MT of macaque monkeys.
We asked whether the dynamics of target motion are represented in visual area MT and how information about image velocity and acceleration might be extracted from the population responses in area MT for use in motor control. The time course of MT neuron responses was recorded in anesthetized macaque monkeys during target motions that covered the range of dynamics normally seen during smooth pursuit eye movements. When the target motion provided steps of target speed, MT neurons showed a continuum from purely tonic responses to those with large transient pulses of firing at the onset of motion. Cells with large transient responses for steps of target speed also had larger responses for smooth accelerations than for decelerations through the same range of target speeds. Condition-test experiments with pairs of 64 msec pulses of target speed revealed response attenuation at short interpulse intervals in cells with large transient responses. For sinusoidal modulation of target speed, MT neuron responses were strongly modulated for frequencies up to, but not higher than, 8 Hz. The phase of the responses was consistent with a 90 msec time delay between target velocity and firing rate. We created a model that reproduced the dynamic responses of MT cells using divisive gain control, used the model to visualize the population response in MT to individual stimuli, and devised weighted-averaging computations to reconstruct target speed and acceleration from the population response. Target speed could be reconstructed if each neuron's output was weighted according to its preferred speed. Target acceleration could be reconstructed if each neuron's output was weighted according to the product of preferred speed and a measure of the size of its transient response. (+info)