Tactile-spatial and cross-modal attention effects in the second somatosensory and 7b cortical areas of rhesus monkeys

H. Burton, R. J. Sinclair, S. Y. Hong, J. R. Pruett, K. C. Whang

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65 Scopus citations


This study analyzed neuronal responses in the second somatosensory (SII) and 7b cortical areas during a selective attention task. Cues directed attention to one of three simultaneous stimuli: vibrotactile stimuli applied to mirror sites on both hands or to a similarly timed auditory tone. Two stimulus patterns appeared with equal probability for the cued stimulus: a constant amplitude sinewave or the latter with a superimposed brief amplitude pulse midway in the trial. Uncued stimuli always contained amplitude pulses. Monkeys demonstrated whether an amplitude pulse at the cued location was present or absent by making appropriately rewarded up and down foot pedal movements. Cue location and stimulus pattern varied trial-wise and pseudo-randomly. Average firing rates to vibrotactile stimuli in 82 of 181 SII cells and 13 of 22 area 7b cells differed significantly during at least one epoch for trials cued to the contralateral hand when compared to trials cued to the ipsilateral hand or auditory stimulus. Predominant were relatively suppressed firing rates during times prior to the epoch containing the amplitude pulses or enhanced activity during and after these pulses. Generally, different cells showed suppression early vs enhancement later in a trial. Analyses of the ratio between firing rates before and during the amplitude pulses suggested improved evoked signals to the amplitude pulses. The discussion considers attention as a mechanism for reducing distractions, early in the trial through suppressing these signals, or for selectively increasing response magnitudes in the cued channel, especially around times when amplitude pulses were present or absent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-267
Number of pages31
JournalSomatosensory and Motor Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1997


  • Hand
  • Rhesus monkeys
  • Selective attention
  • Single neuron responses
  • Somatosensory cortex
  • Vibrotactile stimulation


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