Differential roles for frontal eye fields (FEFs) and intraparietal sulcus (IPS) in visual working memory and visual attention

Shani Offen, Justin L. Gardner, Denis Schluppeck, David J. Heeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Cortical activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging to probe the involvement of the superior precentral sulcus (including putative human frontal eye fields, FEFs) and the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) in visual short-term memory and visual attention. In two experimental tasks, human subjects viewed two visual stimuli separated by a variable delay period. The tasks placed differential demands on short-term memory and attention, but the stimuli were visually identical until after the delay period. An earlier study (S. Offen, D. Schluppeck, & D. J. Heeger, 2009) had found a dissociation in early visual cortex that suggested different computational mechanisms underlying the two processes. In contrast, the results reported here show that the patterns of activation in prefrontal and parietal cortex were different from one another but were similar for the two tasks. In particular, the FEF showed evidence for sustained delay period activity for both the working memory and the attention task, while the IPS did not show evidence for sustained delay period activity for either task. The results imply differential roles for the FEF and IPS in these tasks; the results also suggest that feedback of sustained activity from frontal cortex to visual cortex might be gated by task demands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2010



  • Attention
  • Cognitive control
  • FEF
  • fMRI
  • IPS
  • Memory
  • Sustained activity
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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