Neural processing at most stages of the primate visual system is modulated by selective attention, such that behaviorally relevant information is emphasized at the expenses of irrelevant, potentially distracting information. The form of attention best understood at the cellular level is when stimuli at a given location in the visual field must be selected (space-based attention). In contrast, fewer single-unit recording studies have so far explored the cellular mechanisms of attention operating on individual stimulus features, specifically when one feature (e.g., color) of an object must guide behavioral responses while a second feature (e.g., shape) of the same object is potentially interfering and therefore must be ignored. Here we show that activity of neurons in macaque area V4 can underlie the selection of elemental object features and their "translation" into a categorical format that can directly contribute to the control of the animal's behavior.
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