Supplementary eye field during visual search: salience, cognitive control, and performance monitoring.

Purcell BA, Weigand PK, Schall JD
J Neurosci. 2012 32 (30): 10273-85

PMID: 22836261 · PMCID: PMC3417208 · DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6386-11.2012

How supplementary eye field (SEF) contributes to visual search is unknown. Inputs from cortical and subcortical structures known to represent visual salience suggest that SEF may serve as an additional node in this network. This hypothesis was tested by recording action potentials and local field potentials (LFPs) in two monkeys performing an efficient pop-out visual search task. Target selection modulation, tuning width, and response magnitude of spikes and LFP in SEF were compared with those in frontal eye field. Surprisingly, only ∼2% of SEF neurons and ∼8% of SEF LFP sites selected the location of the search target. The absence of salience in SEF may be due to an absence of appropriate visual afferents, which suggests that these inputs are a necessary anatomical feature of areas representing salience. We also tested whether SEF contributes to overcoming the automatic tendency to respond to a primed color when the target identity switches during priming of pop-out. Very few SEF neurons or LFP sites modulated in association with performance deficits following target switches. However, a subset of SEF neurons and LFPs exhibited strong modulation following erroneous saccades to a distractor. Altogether, these results suggest that SEF plays a limited role in controlling ongoing visual search behavior, but may play a larger role in monitoring search performance.

MeSH Terms (13)

Action Potentials Animals Cognition Eye Movements Macaca mulatta Macaca radiata Male Neurons Photic Stimulation Visual Cortex Visual Fields Visual Pathways Visual Perception

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