Attention to Surfaces Modulates Motion Processing in Extrastriate Area MT

Aurel Wannig, V. Rodríguez, Winrich A. Freiwald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the visual system, early atomized representations are grouped into higher-level entities through processes of perceptual organization. Here we present neurophysiological evidence that a representation of a simple object, a surface defined by color and motion, can be the unit of attentional selection at an early stage of visual processing. Monkeys were cued by the color of a fixation spot to attend to one of two transparent random-dot surfaces, one red and one green, which occupied the same region of space. Motion of the attended surface drove neurons in the middle temporal (MT) visual area more strongly than physically identical motion of the nonattended surface, even though both occurred within the spotlight of attention. Surface-based effects of attention persisted even without differential surface coloring, but attentional modulation was stronger with color. These results show that attention can select surface representations to modulate visual processing as early as cortical area MT.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-651
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2007


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