Abstract and Keywords
Damage to the human inferior parietal lobe produces an attentional disturbance known as contralateral neglect, and neurophysiological studies in monkeys have begun to unravel the cellular basis of this function. Converging evidence suggests that LIP encodes a sparse topographic map of the visual world that highlights attention-worthy objects or locations. LIP cells may facilitate sensory attentional modulations, and ultimately the transient improvement in perceptual thresholds that is the behavioural signature of visual attention. In addition, LIP projects to oculomotor centres where it can prime the production of a rapid eye movement (saccade). Importantly, LIP cells can select visual targets without triggering saccades, showing that they implement an internal (covert) form of selection that can be flexibly linked with action by virtue of additional, independent mechanisms. The target selection response in LIP is modulated by bottom-up factors and by multiple task-related factors. These modulations are likely to arise through learning and may reflect a multitude of computations through which the brain decides when and to what to attend.
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