We study visual attention because of its importance in visual perception. Behavioral paradigms, such as change blindness, have shown us that while we think we perceive the whole visual world, we only take away information about regions or objects that we have attended. Because visual attention is a foundation of visual perception, it underlies most of our interactions with the perceived world - both our physical interactions and more intellectual interactions, such as learning and memory. Thus, increasing our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the guidance of attention is critical in allowing us to gain a deeper insight into how the brain makes decisions based on both external and cognitive inputs and, in the long run, insight into the mechanisms underlying visual perception itself. In this study, we test the hypothesis that the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) acts as a priority map - a map of the visual world that is used to guide the allocation of attention. The theory is that attention is allocated to the location on the map with the greatest activity. We have hypothesized that this map is used to guide both peripheral (covert) attention and eye movements (overt attention).
In aim 1, we will test this hypothesis by comparing the activity in LIP and visual area V4 under conditions in which covert attention is spread, focused or biased to a particular location. We predict that activity in V4 will be modulated in a way that is directly related to the spatial distribution of activity in LIP - a peak of activity in LIP will produce strong attentional modulation in V4. We will further test this by stimulating LIP and showing predictable modulation in V4 activity.
In aim 2, we will test a prediction made by our model of the system, namely that once an object has been looked at, it is suppressed on the map so that the focus of gaze (ie. overt attention) doesn't just bounce between the two highest points on the map. We will test this by examining the activity in LIP to an identical stimulus under conditions in which it has or has not been looked at previously. We expect that the response will be significantly lower in the case in which the stimulus has already been seen. We will then test whether this reduction in activity is important to the behavior by stimulating LIP during the task. We expect that this will result in more eye movements being made to the visual stimulus at the stimulated location than to the same stimulus in trials in which stimulation does not occur. These experiments are aimed at understanding the role that LIP plays in the allocation of attention and the results may be used to fine-tune our model of how attention is allocated.

Public Health Relevance

The results from this study help us understand the way the brain decides what is worth paying attention to. Given the importance of visual attention in everyday life and the deficits seen in patients with parietal lesions or attention deficit disorders, a greater understanding of this mechanism may aid in the development of pharmacological or behavioral methods to combat these problems.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cognitive Neuroscience Study Section (COG)
Program Officer
Steinmetz, Michael A
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California Los Angeles
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
Zip Code
Arcizet, Fabrice; Mirpour, Koorosh; Foster, Daniel J et al. (2018) Activity in LIP, But not V4, Matches Performance When Attention is Spread. Cereb Cortex 28:4195-4209
Mirpour, Koorosh; Bolandnazar, Zeinab; Bisley, James W (2018) Suppression of frontal eye field neuronal responses with maintained fixation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115:804-809
Ong, Wei Song; Mirpour, Koorosh; Bisley, James W (2017) Object comparison in the lateral intraparietal area. J Neurophysiol 118:2458-2469
Mirpour, Koorosh; Bisley, James W (2016) Remapping, Spatial Stability, and Temporal Continuity: From the Pre-Saccadic to Postsaccadic Representation of Visual Space in LIP. Cereb Cortex 26:3183-95
Arcizet, Fabrice; Mirpour, Koorosh; Foster, Daniel J et al. (2015) LIP activity in the interstimulus interval of a change detection task biases the behavioral response. J Neurophysiol 114:2637-48
Zelinsky, Gregory J; Bisley, James W (2015) The what, where, and why of priority maps and their interactions with visual working memory. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1339:154-64
Mirpour, Koorosh; Bisley, James W (2013) Evidence for differential top-down and bottom-up suppression in posterior parietal cortex. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 368:20130069
Mirpour, Koorosh; Bisley, James W (2012) Anticipatory remapping of attentional priority across the entire visual field. J Neurosci 32:16449-57
Shariat Torbaghan, Solmaz; Yazdi, Daniel; Mirpour, Koorosh et al. (2012) Inhibition of return in a visual foraging task in non-human subjects. Vision Res 74:2-9
Bisley, James W; Mirpour, Koorosh; Arcizet, Fabrice et al. (2011) The role of the lateral intraparietal area in orienting attention and its implications for visual search. Eur J Neurosci 33:1982-90

Showing the most recent 10 out of 16 publications