Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The macaque FEFs and the lateral intraparietal area (LIP) are high-level cortical areas involved in both spatial attention and oculomotor behavior. Stimulating FEF at a level below the threshold for evoking saccades increases fMRI activity and gamma power in area LIP, but the precise effect exerted by the FEF on LIP neurons is unknown. In our study, we recorded LIP single-unit activity during a visually guided saccade task with a peripherally presented go signal during microstimulation of FEF. We found that FEF microstimulation increased the LIP spike rate immediately after the highly salient go signal inside the LIP receptive field when both target and go signal were presented inside the receptive field, and no other possible go cues were present on the screen. The effect of FEF microstimulation on the LIP response was positive until at least 800 msec after microstimulation had ceased, but reversed for longer trial durations. Therefore, FEF microstimulation can modulate the LIP spike rate only when attention is selectively directed toward the stimulated location. These results provide the first direct evidence for LIP spike rate modulations caused by FEF microstimulation, thus showing that FEF activity can be the source of top–down control of area LIP.