Sabine Kastner, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
Princeton Neuroscience Institute
Director, Neuroimaging Facility
Neural basis of visual attention in the primate brain
Our natural environments contain too much information for the visual system to represent. Therefore, attentional mechanisms are necessary to mediate the selection of behaviorally relevant information. Much progress has been made to further our understanding of the modulation of neural processing in visual cortex. However, our understanding of how these modulatory signals are generated and controlled is still poor. In the first part of my talk, I will discuss recent functional magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial magnetic stimulation studies directed at topographically organized frontal and parietal cortex in humans to reveal the mechanisms underlying space-based control of selective attention. In the second part of my talk, I will discuss recent monkey physiology studies that suggest an important function of a thalamic nucleus, the pulvinar, in controlling the routing of information through visual cortex during spatial attention. Together, these studies indicate that a large-scale network of high-order cortical as well as thalamic brain regions is involved with the control of space-based selection of visual information from the environment.