Ignashchenkova A, Haarmeier T, Thier P, 2006, "Movement neurons in the frontal eye field is not activated by covert shifts of both exogenous and endogenous attention" Perception 35 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Movement neurons in the frontal eye field is not activated by covert shifts of both exogenous and endogenous attention
A Ignashchenkova, T Haarmeier, P Thier
The 'motor theory of attention' holds that overt shifts of attention (saccades) and covert shifts of attention share a common substrate. With this theory in mind, we asked if the same frontal-eye-field (FEF) neurons, activated by saccades, are also activated by covert shifts of attention. Monkeys were trained on two paradigms requiring exogenous and endogenous attentional shifts, respectively, by cueing a discriminandum either spatially precise or symbolically (an arrow-like object presented at the fixation point). We tested neurons with a motor response preceding saccade execution ('movement neuron') with the discriminandum and the spatially precise cue placed in the motor field of a given cell. We did not observe any specific discharge components in movement neurons in the period between the presentation of the cue and the discriminandum, in which the covert shifts of attention would be expected to take place. These observations suggest that the role of movement neurons of the FEF is restricted to the generation of overt shifts of attention and the involvement of FEF in covert shifts proposed by electrical micro-stimulation studies should be explained by a specific activation of other types of neurons such as visuo- or/and visuomotor cells.
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