Attentional suppression of activity in the human visual cortex

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We have used fMRI to examine the nature of the changes that occur in the human visual cortex when an observer attends to a particular location in the visual image. Previous studies have shown that the magnitude of the response to a visual stimulus is increased when the observer attends to the stimulus. We show that, in addition, attention to a particular location results in a widespread suppression of activity levels at all other locations. This suggests that a key mechanism of attentional modulation may be that spontaneous (baseline) levels of neural activity are adjusted in a position-dependent manner across the entire visual field.

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