Prefrontal cortex neurons reflecting reports of a visual illusion

Mikhail A. Lebedev, Diana K. Douglass, Sohie Lee Moody, Steven P. Wise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


When a small, focally attended visual stimulus and a larger background frame shift location at the same time, the frame's new location can affect spatial perception. For horizontal displacements on the order of 1-2°, when the frame moves more than the attended stimulus, human subjects may perceive that the attended stimulus has shifted to the right or left when it has not done so. However, that misapprehension does not disable accurate eye movements to the same stimulus. We trained a rhesus monkey to report the direction that an attended stimulus had shifted by making an eye movement to one of the two report targets. Then, using conditions that induce displacement illusions in human subjects, we tested the hypothesis that neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex (PF) would reflect the displacement directions reported by the monkey, even when they conflicted with the actual displacement, if any, of the attended stimulus. We also predicted that these cells would have directional selectivity for movements used to make those reports, but not for similar eye movements made to fixate the attended stimulus. A population of PF neurons showed the predicted properties, which could not be accounted for on the basis of either eye-movement or frame-shift parameters. This activity, termed report-related, began approximately 150 ms before the onset of the reporting saccade. Another population of PF neurons showed greater directional selectivity for saccadic eye movements made to fixate the attended stimulus than for similar saccades made to report its displacement. In view of the evidence that PF functions to integrate inputs and actions occurring at different times and places, the present findings support the idea that such integration involves movements to acquire response targets, directly, as well as actions guided by less direct response rules, such as perceptual reports.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1411
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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