A Neural Model for Attentional Modulation of Lateral Interactions in the Visual Cortex

  • Mia Šetić
  • Dražen Domijan
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 4729)


Neurophysiological investigations showed that attention influences neural responses in the visual cortex by modulating the amount of contextual interactions between cells. Attention acts as a gate that protects cells from lateral excitatory and inhibitory influences. A recurrent neural network based on dendritic inhibition is proposed to account for these findings. In the model, two types of inhibition are distinguished: dendritic and lateral inhibition. Dendritic inhibition regulates the amount of impact that surrounding cells may exert on a target cell via dendrites of excitatory neurons and dendrites of subpopulation of inhibitory neurons mediating lateral inhibition. Attention increases the amount of dendritic inhibition and prevents contextual interactions, while it has no effect on the target cell when there is no contextual input. Computer simulations showed that the proposed model reproduces the results of several studies about interaction between attention and horizontal connections in the visual cortex.


Attention Contrast Contour Integration Visual Cortex Dendritic Inhibition 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bundasen, C., Habekost, T., Kyllingsbaek, S.: A neural theory of visual attention: Bridging cognition and neurophysiology. Psych. Rev. 112, 291–328 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fries, P., Reynolds, J.H., Rorie, A.E., Desimone, R.: Modulation of oscillatory neuronal synchronization by selective visual attention. Science 291, 1560–1563 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gilbert, C.D., Ito, M., Kapadia, M.K., Westheimer, G.: Interactions between attention, context and learning in the primary visual cortex. Vis. Res. 40, 1217–1226 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Grossberg, S., Raizada, R.D.S.: Contrast-sensitive perceptual grouping and object-based attention in the laminar circuits of primary visual cortex. Vis. Res. 40, 1413–1432 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Häusser, M., Mel, B.W.: Dendrites: bug or feature? Curr. Opin. Neurobiol. 13, 372–383 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ito, M., Westheimer, G., Gilbert, C.D.: Attention and perceptual learning modulate contextual influences on the visual perception. Neuron 20, 1191–1197 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ito, M., Gilbert, C.D.: Attention modulates contextual influences in the primary visual cortex of alert monkeys. Neuron 22, 593–604 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kapadia, M.K., Ito, M., Gilbert, C.D., Westheimer, G.: Improvement in visual sensitivity by changes in the local context: parallel studies in human observers and in V1 of alert monkeys. Neuron 15, 843–856 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Li, Z.: A neural model of contour integration in the primary visual cortex. Neural Comput. 10, 903–940 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Liu, G.: Local structural balance and functional interaction of excitatory and inhibitory synapses in hippocampal dendrites. Nat. Neurosci. 7, 373–379 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    London, M., Häusser, M.: Dendritic computation. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 28, 503–532 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    McAdams, C.J., Maunsell, J.H.R.: Effects of attention on orientation-tuning functions of single neurons in macaque cortical area V4. J. Neurosci. 19, 431–441 (1999)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Reynolds, J.H., Chelazzi, L.: Attentional modulation of visual processing. Annu. Rev. Neurosci. 27, 611–647 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Reynolds, J.H., Chelazzi, L., Desimone, R.: Competitive mechanisms subserve attention in macaque area V2 and V4. J. Neurosci. 19, 1736–1753 (1999)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Reynolds, J.H., Pasternak, T., Desimone, R.: Attention increases sensitivity of V4 neurons. Neuron 26, 703–714 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Spratling, M.W., Johnson, M.H.: A feedback model of visual attention. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 16, 219–237 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Treue, S.: Neural correlates of attention in primate visual cortex. Trends Neurosci. 24, 295–300 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zenger, B., Braun, J., Koch, C.: Attention effects on contrast detection in the presence of surround masks. Vis. Res. 40, 3717–3724 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mia Šetić
    • 1
  • Dražen Domijan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Rijeka, Ivana Klobučarića 1, 51000 RijekaCroatia

Personalised recommendations