Suppressing feedback signals to visual cortex abolishes attentional modulation

Samantha R. Debes, Valentin Dragoi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Attention improves perception by enhancing the neural encoding of sensory information. A long-standing hypothesis is that cortical feedback projections carry top-down signals to influence sensory coding. However, this hypothesis has never been tested to establish causal links. We used viral tools to label feedback connections from cortical area V4 targeting early visual cortex (area V1). While monkeys performed a visual-spatial attention task, inactivating feedback axonal terminals in V1 without altering local intracortical and feedforward inputs reduced the response gain of single cells and impaired the accuracy of neural populations for encoding external stimuli. These effects are primarily manifested in the superficial layers of V1 and propagate to downstream area V4. Attention enhances sensory coding across visual cortex by specifically altering the strength of corticocortical feedback in a layer-dependent manner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-473
Number of pages6
Issue number6631
StatePublished - Feb 3 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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