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Front. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00123

Short and long-term attentional firing rates can be explained by ST-neuron dynamics

  • 1Centre for Vision Research, York University, Canada
  • 2Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, York University, Canada

Attention modulates neural selectivity and optimizes the allocation of cortical resources during visual tasks. A large number or experimental studies in primates and humans provide ample evidence. As an underlying principle of visual attention, some theoretical models suggested the existence of a gain element that enhances contrast of the attended stimuli. In contrast, the Selective Tuning model of attention (ST) proposes an attentional mechanism based on suppression of irrelevant signals. In this paper, we present an updated characterization of the ST-neuron proposed by the Selective Tuning model, and suggest that the inclusion of adaptation currents (Ih) to ST-neurons may explain the temporal profiles of the firing rates recorded in single V4 cells during attentional tasks. Furthermore, using the model we show that the interaction between stimulus-selectivity of a neuron and attention shapes the profile of the firing rate, and is enough to explain its fast modulation and other discontinuities observed, when the neuron responds to a sudden switch of stimulus, or when one stimulus is added to another during a visual task.

Keywords: : Visual attention, single cell, ST-neuron, firing rate, neural selectivity

Received: 11 Aug 2017; Accepted: 15 Feb 2018.

Edited by:

Xavier Otazu, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Reviewed by:

Keith Schneider, University of Delaware, United States
Jihyun Yeonan-Kim, San Jose State University, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Avella Gonzalez and Tsotsos. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Oscar Javier Avella Gonzalez, OJAG., York University, Centre for Vision Research, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, M3J 1P3, Ontario, Canada, oscarjavella@gmail.com