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Principles of Visual Attention:Linking Mind and Brain$
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Claus Bundesen and Thomas Habekost

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780198570707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198570707.001.0001

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Effects of visual attention in single neurons

Effects of visual attention in single neurons

(p.141) 6 Effects of visual attention in single neurons
Principles of Visual Attention:

Claus Bundesen

Thomas Habekost

Oxford University Press

Single-cell research offers a unique view of attentional function at the nervous system's most basic processing level. This chapter reviews the attentional mechanisms that have been uncovered in this field, as well as some of the most influential theoretical models. Section 6.1 begins by clarifying which kind of system is being modulated and takes a look at some fundamental properties of neural activity. Section 6.2 discusses the strengths and disadvantages of doing attention research at the single-cell level. Section 6.3 describes the four main types of attentional effects that have been found in this line of work: (1) strong changes in firing activity when multiple stimuli are competing for the neuron's response; (2) more modest effects when only one stimulus is presented to the cell; (3) increases in baseline activity when a stimulus is expected but has not yet occurred; and (4) increased synchronization between firings of neurons that respond to an attended stimulus. Sections 6.4 and 6.5 describe the two general types of models that have been proposed to account for these findings: attention as gain control and biased competition.

Keywords:   single-cell research, attentional mechanisms, nervous system

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