The Role of Primate Prefrontal Cortex in Bias and Shift Between Visual Dimensions

Farshad A. Mansouri, Mark J Buckley, Daniel J. Fehring, Keiji Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Imaging and neural activity recording studies have shown activation in the primate prefrontal cortex when shifting attention between visual dimensions is necessary to achieve goals. A fundamental unanswered question is whether representations of these dimensions emerge from top-down attentional processes mediated by prefrontal regions or from bottom-up processes within visual cortical regions. We hypothesized a causative link between prefrontal cortical regions and dimension-based behavior. In large cohorts of humans and macaque monkeys, performing the same attention shifting task, we found that both species successfully shifted between visual dimensions, but both species also showed a significant behavioral advantage/bias to a particular dimension; however, these biases were in opposite directions in humans (bias to color) versus monkeys (bias to shape). Monkeys' bias remained after selective bilateral lesions within the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), frontopolar cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), or superior, lateral prefrontal cortex. However, lesions within certain regions (ACC, DLPFC, or OFC) impaired monkeys' ability to shift between these dimensions. We conclude that goal-directed processing of a particular dimension for the executive control of behavior depends on the integrity of prefrontal cortex; however, representation of competing dimensions and bias toward them does not depend on top-down prefrontal-mediated processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbhz072
Pages (from-to)85-99
Number of pages15
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2020


  • attentional set shifting
  • lesion-behavioral study
  • prefrontal cortex
  • visual dimensions

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