All-or-None Context Dependence Delineates Limits of FEF Visual Target Selection

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Abstract

Choices of where to look are informed by perceptual judgments, which locate objects of current value or interest within the visual scene. This perceptual-motor transform is partly implemented in the frontal eye field (FEF), where visually responsive neurons appear to select behaviorally relevant visual targets and, subsequently, saccade-related neurons select the movements required to look at them. Here, we use urgent decision-making tasks to show (1) that FEF motor activity can direct accurate, visually informed choices in the complete absence of prior target-distracter discrimination by FEF visual responses and (2) that such discrimination by FEF visual cells shows an all-or-none reliance on the presence of stimulus attributes strongly associated with saliency-driven attentional allocation. The present findings suggest that FEF visual target selection is specific to visual judgments made on the basis of saliency and may not play a significant role in guiding saccadic choices informed solely by feature content.

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Scerra, V. E., Costello, M. G., Salinas, E., & Stanford, T. R. (2019). All-or-None Context Dependence Delineates Limits of FEF Visual Target Selection. Current Biology, 29(2), 294-305.e3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2018.12.013

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