The pulvinar and visual salience

David Lee Robinson, Steven E. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

346 Scopus citations


One of the major problems of living in a rich visual environment is deciding which particular object or location should be chosen for complete processing or attention; that is, deciding which object is most salient at any particular time. The pulvinar has enlarged substantially during evolution, although little has previously been known about its function. Recent studies suggest that the pulvinar contains neurons that generate signals related to the salience of visual objects. This evidence includes: (1) anatomical and physiological observations of visual function; (2) augmented responses in the pulvinar for visual stimuli presented in important contexts; (3) suppression of activity for stimuli presented in irrelevant conditions; (4) thalamic modulation producing behavioral changes in cued attention paradigms; and (5) similar changes with visual distracter tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-132
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992


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