Additive effects of attention and stimulus contrast in primary visual cortex

Alexander Thiele*, Arezoo Pooresmaeili, Louise S. Delicato, Jose L. Herrero, Pieter R. Roelfsema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Previous studies have proposed a variety of mechanisms by which attention influences neuronal activity. Here we investigated the mechanisms of attention in the striate cortex of monkeys performing a spatial or an object-based attention task at various stimulus contrasts and compared neuronal contrast response functions with and without attention. Our data are best described by an "additive" interaction: The influence of attention on the neuronal response is relatively independent of the stimulus contrast, at least when the stimulus has enough contrast to become visible. This shows that attention adds to the neuronal responses in a largely contrast invariant manner. These data support recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies and suggest that feedback from higher areas exerts a constant attentional drive that is mostly task not stimulus driven.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2970-2981
Number of pages12
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009


  • Area V1
  • Attentional modulation
  • Contrast gain
  • Contrast sensitivity
  • Response gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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