Role of Prefrontal Cortex in Conscious Visual Perception


Early visual areas are required for conscious visual perception, but recent evidence suggests that parts of the frontal lobe might also play a key role.However,it remains unclear whetherfrontal brain areas areinvolvedin visual perception ormerely useinformationfrom visual regionsto drive behavior. One suchfrontal cortical area,thefrontal-eyefield (FEF), has been shownto havefast visual responses,thoughtto reflect mostly low-level visual processing, and delayed responsesthat correlate with perceptual reports. The latter observation is consistent withthe ideathat FEF uses visual information from (slower) visual regions to guide behavior. Here we ask whether fast visual responses in FEF also carry information relatedtotheperceptual state of animals.We recorded single-cell activityintwomonkeystrainedto reportthepresence or absence of a visualtargetunder conditionsthat evoketheillusorydisappearance ofthetarget (motion-induced blindness).Wefoundthatfast responses in FEF strongly correlated with the perceptual report of the animal. It is unlikely that short-latency perceptually correlated activity is inherited from early visual areas, since response latencies in FEF are shorterthanthose of visual areas with perceptually correlated activity. These results suggest that frontal brain areas are involved in generating the contents of visual perception.

Published in: The Journal of Neuroscience


Camilo Libedinsky and Margaret Livingstone

Publication Information:

The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(1):64 – 69 | January 5, 2011
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