Mechanisms of visual attention in the human cortex

Sabine Kastner, Leslie G. Ungerleider

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1756 Scopus citations


A typical scene contains many different objects that, because of the limited processing capacity of the visual system, compete for neural representation. The competition among multiple objects in visual cortex can be biased by both bottom-up sensory-driven mechanisms and top-down influences, such as selective attention. Functional brain imaging studies reveal that, both in the absence and in the presence of visual stimulation, biasing signals due to selective attention can modulate neural activity in visual cortex in several ways. Although the competition among stimuli for representation is ultimately resolved within visual cortex, the source of top-down biasing signals derives from a network of areas in frontal and parietal cortex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-341
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Functional brain imaging
  • Neglect
  • Object recognition
  • Selective attention
  • Vision


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