Figure-ground mechanisms provide structure for selective attention

Fangtu T. Qiu, Tadashi Sugihara, Rüdiger Von Der Heydt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attention depends on figure-ground organization: figures draw attention, whereas shapes of the ground tend to be ignored. Recent research has revealed mechanisms for figure-ground organization in the visual cortex, but how these mechanisms relate to the attention process remains unclear. Here we show that the influences of figure-ground organization and volitional (top-down) attention converge in single neurons of area V2 in Macaca mulatta. Although we found assignment of border ownership for attended and for ignored figures, attentional modulation was stronger when the attended figure was located on the neuron's preferred side of border ownership. When the border between two overlapping figures was placed in the receptive field, responses depended on the side of attention, and enhancement was generally found on the neuron's preferred side of border ownership. This correlation suggests that the neural network that creates figure-ground organization also provides the interface for the top-down selection process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1492-1499
Number of pages8
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Figure-ground mechanisms provide structure for selective attention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this