V1 Neurons Signal Acquisition of an Internal Representation of Stimulus Location

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Science  13 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5626, pp. 1758-1763
DOI: 10.1126/science.1081721

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A fundamental aspect of visuomotor behavior is deciding where to look or move next. Under certain conditions, the brain constructs an internal representation of stimulus location on the basis of previous knowledge and uses it to move the eyes or to make other movements. Neuronal responses in primary visual cortex were modulated when such an internal representation was acquired: Responses to a stimulus were affected progressively by sequential presentation of the stimulus at one location but not when the location was varied randomly. Responses of individual neurons were spatially tuned for gaze direction and tracked the Bayesian probability of stimulus appearance. We propose that the representation arises in a distributed cortical network and is associated with systematic changes in response selectivity and dynamics at the earliest stages of cortical visual processing.

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