John Maunsell

Research Summary
Our research is aimed at understanding how neuronal signals in visual cerebral cortex generate perceptions and guide behavior. Our approach is to record from individual neurons in trained, behaving monkeys and mice while they perform visual tasks. Much of our work is directed at understanding how paying attention to specific visual targets affects the way that they are represented in the brain, and how changes in the sensory representation caused by attention relate to changes in perception and behavior. We have shown that attention increases the strength of neuronal responses without changing their selectivity, effectively representing the attended stimulus as if it were more intense than it really is. Paired measurements of neuronal responses and behavioral performance have shown that much of the behavioral advantage conferred by attention may be explained by this change it causes in the sensory representation, rather than decision processes. Another line of research has been exploring the more general question of how the activity of given neurons contributes to specific visual behaviors. Measurements of the trial-to-trial correlation between the strength of a neuron's responses to a weak stimulus and the animal's performance detecting that stimulus have shown that different neurons contribute to a greater or lesser degree to particular behaviors depending on which stimuli they are most sensitive to. We also use electrical and optical microstimulation to explore how different regions in visual cortex contribute to visual perceptions. By measuring the stimulus strength needed to produce a just-detectable stimulus in different cortical areas, we have found that all regions of cerebral cortex are comparable in their ability to produce detectable percepts.
Keywords
attention, vision, cerebral cortex, computation, optogenetics
Education
  • Duke University, Durham, NC, BS Zoology
  • California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, PhD Biology
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, Postdoc Psychology
Biosciences Graduate Program Association
Awards & Honors
  • 1982 - Outstanding PhD Thesis Award Intra-Science Research Foundation
  • 1986 - 1989 Young Investigator Award Office of Naval Research
  • 1991 - 1993 Development Award McKnight Foundation
  • 2002 - Elected Fellow American Academy for the Advancement of Science
  • 2008 - Astor Visiting Lecturer Oxford University
  • 2014 - Elected Fellow American Academdy of Arts and Science
  • 2018 - Member Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives
Publications
  1. Kang I, Maunsell JHR. The Correlation of Neuronal Signals with Behavior at Different Levels of Visual Cortex and Their Relative Reliability for Behavioral Decisions. J Neurosci. 2020 May 06; 40(19):3751-3767. View in: PubMed

  2. Luo TZ, Maunsell JHR. Attention can be subdivided into neurobiological components corresponding to distinct behavioral effects. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019 Dec 23. View in: PubMed

  3. Ni AM, Maunsell JHR. Neuronal Effects of Spatial and Feature Attention Differ Due to Normalization. J Neurosci. 2019 07 10; 39(28):5493-5505. View in: PubMed

  4. Cone JJ, Scantlen MD, Histed MH, Maunsell JHR. Different Inhibitory Interneuron Cell Classes Make Distinct Contributions to Visual Contrast Perception. eNeuro. 2019 Jan-Feb; 6(1). View in: PubMed

  5. Cone JJ, Ni AM, Ghose K, Maunsell JHR. Electrical Microstimulation of Visual Cerebral Cortex Elevates Psychophysical Detection Thresholds. eNeuro. 2018 Sep-Oct; 5(5). View in: PubMed

  6. Luo TZ, Maunsell JHR. Attentional Changes in Either Criterion or Sensitivity Are Associated with Robust Modulations in Lateral Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron. 2018 03 21; 97(6):1382-1393.e7. View in: PubMed

  7. Ni AM, Maunsell JHR. Spatially tuned normalization explains attention modulation variance within neurons. J Neurophysiol. 2017 09 01; 118(3):1903-1913. View in: PubMed

  8. Verhoef BE, Maunsell JHR. Attention-related changes in correlated neuronal activity arise from normalization mechanisms. Nat Neurosci. 2017 Jul; 20(7):969-977. View in: PubMed

  9. Maunsell JHR. Neuronal Mechanisms of Visual Attention. Annu Rev Vis Sci. 2015 Nov 24; 1:373-391. View in: PubMed

  10. Verhoef BE, Maunsell JH. Attention operates uniformly throughout the classical receptive field and the surround. Elife. 2016 08 22; 5. View in: PubMed

  11. Mayo JP, Maunsell JH. Graded Neuronal Modulations Related to Visual Spatial Attention. J Neurosci. 2016 05 11; 36(19):5353-61. View in: PubMed

  12. Mayo JP, Cohen MR, Maunsell JH. A Refined Neuronal Population Measure of Visual Attention. PLoS One. 2015; 10(8):e0136570. View in: PubMed

  13. Luo TZ, Maunsell JH. Neuronal Modulations in Visual Cortex Are Associated with Only One of Multiple Components of Attention. Neuron. 2015 Jun 03; 86(5):1182-8. View in: PubMed

  14. Ray S, Maunsell JH. Do gamma oscillations play a role in cerebral cortex? Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 Feb; 19(2):78-85. View in: PubMed

  15. Maunsell JH. Unique identifiers for authors. J Neurosci. 2014 May 21; 34(21):7043. View in: PubMed

  16. Histed MH, Maunsell JH. Cortical neural populations can guide behavior by integrating inputs linearly, independent of synchrony. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jan 07; 111(1):E178-87. View in: PubMed

  17. Glickfeld LL, Histed MH, Maunsell JH. Mouse primary visual cortex is used to detect both orientation and contrast changes. J Neurosci. 2013 Dec 11; 33(50):19416-22. View in: PubMed

  18. Ray S, Ni AM, Maunsell JH. Strength of gamma rhythm depends on normalization. PLoS Biol. 2013; 11(2):e1001477. View in: PubMed

  19. Ghose K, Maunsell JH. A strong constraint to the joint processing of pairs of cortical signals. J Neurosci. 2012 Nov 07; 32(45):15922-33. View in: PubMed

  20. Kang I, Maunsell JH. Potential confounds in estimating trial-to-trial correlations between neuronal response and behavior using choice probabilities. J Neurophysiol. 2012 Dec; 108(12):3403-15. View in: PubMed

  21. Ni AM, Ray S, Maunsell JH. Tuned normalization explains the size of attention modulations. Neuron. 2012 Feb 23; 73(4):803-13. View in: PubMed

  22. Histed MH, Ni AM, Maunsell JH. Insights into cortical mechanisms of behavior from microstimulation experiments. Prog Neurobiol. 2013 Apr; 103:115-30. View in: PubMed

  23. Kreiman G, Maunsell JH. Nine criteria for a measure of scientific output. Front Comput Neurosci. 2011; 5:48. View in: PubMed

  24. Cohen MR, Maunsell JH. When attention wanders: how uncontrolled fluctuations in attention affect performance. J Neurosci. 2011 Nov 02; 31(44):15802-6. View in: PubMed

  25. Histed MH, Carvalho LA, Maunsell JH. Psychophysical measurement of contrast sensitivity in the behaving mouse. J Neurophysiol. 2012 Feb; 107(3):758-65. View in: PubMed

  26. Ray S, Maunsell JH. Network rhythms influence the relationship between spike-triggered local field potential and functional connectivity. J Neurosci. 2011 Aug 31; 31(35):12674-82. View in: PubMed

  27. Cohen MR, Maunsell JH. Using neuronal populations to study the mechanisms underlying spatial and feature attention. Neuron. 2011 Jun 23; 70(6):1192-204. View in: PubMed

  28. Bosking WH, Maunsell JH. Effects of stimulus direction on the correlation between behavior and single units in area MT during a motion detection task. J Neurosci. 2011 Jun 01; 31(22):8230-8. View in: PubMed

  29. Ray S, Maunsell JH. Different origins of gamma rhythm and high-gamma activity in macaque visual cortex. PLoS Biol. 2011 Apr; 9(4):e1000610. View in: PubMed

  30. Cohen MR, Maunsell JH. A neuronal population measure of attention predicts behavioral performance on individual trials. J Neurosci. 2010 Nov 10; 30(45):15241-53. View in: PubMed

  31. Ray S, Maunsell JH. Differences in gamma frequencies across visual cortex restrict their possible use in computation. Neuron. 2010 Sep 09; 67(5):885-96. View in: PubMed

  32. Maunsell J. New feature: Disease Focus. J Neurosci. 2010 Jul 28; 30(30):9957. View in: PubMed

  33. Lee J, Maunsell JH. The effect of attention on neuronal responses to high and low contrast stimuli. J Neurophysiol. 2010 Aug; 104(2):960-71. View in: PubMed

  34. Ni AM, Maunsell JH. Microstimulation reveals limits in detecting different signals from a local cortical region. Curr Biol. 2010 May 11; 20(9):824-8. View in: PubMed

  35. Lee J, Maunsell JH. Attentional modulation of MT neurons with single or multiple stimuli in their receptive fields. J Neurosci. 2010 Feb 24; 30(8):3058-66. View in: PubMed

  36. Cohen MR, Maunsell JH. Attention improves performance primarily by reducing interneuronal correlations. Nat Neurosci. 2009 Dec; 12(12):1594-600. View in: PubMed

  37. Saper CB, Maunsell JH. The Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium. Neurosci Lett. 2009 Jun 19; 457(1):1-2. View in: PubMed

  38. Saper CB, Maunsell JH. The neuroscience peer review consortium. Brain Struct Funct. 2009 Sep; 213(4-5):359-61. View in: PubMed

  39. Saper CB, Maunsell JH. The Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium. Neural Dev. 2009 Mar 12; 4:10. View in: PubMed

  40. Murphey DK, Maunsell JH, Beauchamp MS, Yoshor D. Perceiving electrical stimulation of identified human visual areas. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 31; 106(13):5389-93. View in: PubMed

  41. Lee J, Maunsell JH. A normalization model of attentional modulation of single unit responses. PLoS One. 2009; 4(2):e4651. View in: PubMed

  42. Saper CB, Maunsell JH. The Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium. Eur J Neurosci. 2009 Feb; 29(3):435-6. View in: PubMed

  43. Saper CB, Maunsell JH. Neuroendocrinologies membership of the Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium. Neuroendocrinology. 2009; 89(1):1-2. View in: PubMed

  44. Saper CB, Maunsell JH. The Neuroscience Peer Review Consortium. Neuroinformatics. 2009 Jun; 7(2):89-91. View in: PubMed

  45. Saper CB, Maunsell JH, Sagvolden T. The neuroscience peer review consortium. Behav Brain Funct. 2009 Jan 16; 5:4. View in: PubMed

  46. Dulay MF, Murphey DK, Sun P, David YB, Maunsell JH, Beauchamp MS, Yoshor D. Computer-controlled electrical stimulation for quantitative mapping of human cortical function. J Neurosurg. 2009 Jun; 110(6):1300-3. View in: PubMed

  47. Murphey DK, Maunsell JH. Electrical microstimulation thresholds for behavioral detection and saccades in monkey frontal eye fields. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 May 20; 105(20):7315-20. View in: PubMed

  48. Ghose GM, Maunsell JH. Spatial summation can explain the attentional modulation of neuronal responses to multiple stimuli in area V4. J Neurosci. 2008 May 07; 28(19):5115-26. View in: PubMed

  49. Maunsell J. The NIH Public Access Policy. J Neurosci. 2008 Apr 16; 28(16):4109. View in: PubMed

  50. Yoshor D, Bosking WH, Lega BC, Sun P, Maunsell JH. Local cortical function after uncomplicated subdural electrode implantation. Laboratory investigation. J Neurosurg. 2008 Jan; 108(1):139-44. View in: PubMed

  51. Yoshor D, Ghose GM, Bosking WH, Sun P, Maunsell JH. Spatial attention does not strongly modulate neuronal responses in early human visual cortex. J Neurosci. 2007 Nov 28; 27(48):13205-9. View in: PubMed

  52. Lee J, Williford T, Maunsell JH. Spatial attention and the latency of neuronal responses in macaque area V4. J Neurosci. 2007 Sep 05; 27(36):9632-7. View in: PubMed

  53. Murphey DK, Maunsell JH. Behavioral detection of electrical microstimulation in different cortical visual areas. Curr Biol. 2007 May 15; 17(10):862-7. View in: PubMed

  54. Yoshor D, Bosking WH, Ghose GM, Maunsell JH. Receptive fields in human visual cortex mapped with surface electrodes. Cereb Cortex. 2007 Oct; 17(10):2293-302. View in: PubMed

  55. Boudreau CE, Williford TH, Maunsell JH. Effects of task difficulty and target likelihood in area V4 of macaque monkeys. J Neurophysiol. 2006 Nov; 96(5):2377-87. View in: PubMed

  56. Williford T, Maunsell JH. Effects of spatial attention on contrast response functions in macaque area V4. J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jul; 96(1):40-54. View in: PubMed

  57. Maunsell JH, Treue S. Feature-based attention in visual cortex. Trends Neurosci. 2006 Jun; 29(6):317-22. View in: PubMed

  58. Ferrera VP, Maunsell JH. Motion processing in macaque V4. Nat Neurosci. 2005 Sep; 8(9):1125; author reply 1125. View in: PubMed

  59. DiCarlo JJ, Maunsell JH. Using neuronal latency to determine sensory-motor processing pathways in reaction time tasks. J Neurophysiol. 2005 May; 93(5):2974-86. View in: PubMed

  60. Cook EP, Maunsell JH. Attentional modulation of motion integration of individual neurons in the middle temporal visual area. J Neurosci. 2004 Sep 08; 24(36):7964-77. View in: PubMed

  61. Maunsell JH. Neuronal representations of cognitive state: reward or attention? Trends Cogn Sci. 2004 Jun; 8(6):261-5. View in: PubMed

  62. Yang T, Maunsell JH. The effect of perceptual learning on neuronal responses in monkey visual area V4. J Neurosci. 2004 Feb 18; 24(7):1617-26. View in: PubMed

  63. DiCarlo JJ, Maunsell JH. Anterior inferotemporal neurons of monkeys engaged in object recognition can be highly sensitive to object retinal position. J Neurophysiol. 2003 Jun; 89(6):3264-78. View in: PubMed

  64. Ghose GM, Maunsell JH. Attentional modulation in visual cortex depends on task timing. Nature. 2002 Oct 10; 419(6907):616-20. View in: PubMed

  65. Cook EP, Maunsell JH. Dynamics of neuronal responses in macaque MT and VIP during motion detection. Nat Neurosci. 2002 Oct; 5(10):985-94. View in: PubMed

  66. Maunsell JH, Cook EP. The role of attention in visual processing. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2002 Aug 29; 357(1424):1063-72. View in: PubMed

  67. Ghose GM, Yang T, Maunsell JH. Physiological correlates of perceptual learning in monkey V1 and V2. J Neurophysiol. 2002 Apr; 87(4):1867-88. View in: PubMed

  68. Cook EP, Maunsell JH. Attentional modulation of behavioral performance and neuronal responses in middle temporal and ventral intraparietal areas of macaque monkey. J Neurosci. 2002 Mar 01; 22(5):1994-2004. View in: PubMed

  69. DiCarlo JJ, Maunsell JH. Form representation in monkey inferotemporal cortex is virtually unaltered by free viewing. Nat Neurosci. 2000 Aug; 3(8):814-21. View in: PubMed

  70. McAdams CJ, Maunsell JH. Attention to both space and feature modulates neuronal responses in macaque area V4. J Neurophysiol. 2000 Mar; 83(3):1751-5. View in: PubMed

  71. Ghose GM, Maunsell J. Specialized representations in visual cortex: a role for binding? Neuron. 1999 Sep; 24(1):79-85, 111-25. View in: PubMed

  72. McAdams CJ, Maunsell JH. Effects of attention on the reliability of individual neurons in monkey visual cortex. Neuron. 1999 Aug; 23(4):765-73. View in: PubMed

  73. Treue S, Maunsell JH. Effects of attention on the processing of motion in macaque middle temporal and medial superior temporal visual cortical areas. J Neurosci. 1999 Sep 01; 19(17):7591-602. View in: PubMed

  74. Maunsell JH, Ghose GM, Assad JA, McAdams CJ, Boudreau CE, Noerager BD. Visual response latencies of magnocellular and parvocellular LGN neurons in macaque monkeys. Vis Neurosci. 1999 Jan-Feb; 16(1):1-14. View in: PubMed

  75. McAdams CJ, Maunsell JH. Effects of attention on orientation-tuning functions of single neurons in macaque cortical area V4. J Neurosci. 1999 Jan 01; 19(1):431-41. View in: PubMed

  76. Sereno AB, Maunsell JH. Shape selectivity in primate lateral intraparietal cortex. Nature. 1998 Oct 01; 395(6701):500-3. View in: PubMed

  77. Gibson JR, Maunsell JH. Sensory modality specificity of neural activity related to memory in visual cortex. J Neurophysiol. 1997 Sep; 78(3):1263-75. View in: PubMed

  78. Marsálek P, Koch C, Maunsell J. On the relationship between synaptic input and spike output jitter in individual neurons. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jan 21; 94(2):735-40. View in: PubMed

  79. Lehky SR, Maunsell JH. No binocular rivalry in the LGN of alert macaque monkeys. Vision Res. 1996 May; 36(9):1225-34. View in: PubMed

  80. Treue S, Maunsell JH. Attentional modulation of visual motion processing in cortical areas MT and MST. Nature. 1996 Aug 08; 382(6591):539-41. View in: PubMed

  81. Merigan WH, Maunsell JH. How parallel are the primate visual pathways? Annu Rev Neurosci. 1993; 16:369-402. View in: PubMed

  82. Merigan WH, Nealey TA, Maunsell JH. Visual effects of lesions of cortical area V2 in macaques. J Neurosci. 1993 Jul; 13(7):3180-91. View in: PubMed

  83. Ferrera VP, Nealey TA, Maunsell JH. Responses in macaque visual area V4 following inactivation of the parvocellular and magnocellular LGN pathways. J Neurosci. 1994 Apr; 14(4):2080-8. View in: PubMed

  84. Nealey TA, Maunsell JH. Magnocellular and parvocellular contributions to the responses of neurons in macaque striate cortex. J Neurosci. 1994 Apr; 14(4):2069-79. View in: PubMed

  85. Page WK, King WM, Merigan W, Maunsell J. Magnocellular or parvocellular lesions in the lateral geniculate nucleus of monkeys cause minor deficits of smooth pursuit eye movements. Vision Res. 1994 Jan; 34(2):223-39. View in: PubMed

  86. Ferrera VP, Rudolph KK, Maunsell JH. Responses of neurons in the parietal and temporal visual pathways during a motion task. J Neurosci. 1994 Oct; 14(10):6171-86. View in: PubMed

  87. Assad JA, Maunsell JH. Neuronal correlates of inferred motion in primate posterior parietal cortex. Nature. 1995 Feb 09; 373(6514):518-21. View in: PubMed

  88. Maunsell JH. The brain's visual world: representation of visual targets in cerebral cortex. Science. 1995 Nov 03; 270(5237):764-9. View in: PubMed

  89. Van Essen DC, Maunsell JH. Two-dimensional maps of the cerebral cortex. J Comp Neurol. 1980 May 15; 191(2):255-81. View in: PubMed

  90. Van Essen DC, Maunsell JH, Bixby JL. The middle temporal visual area in the macaque: myeloarchitecture, connections, functional properties and topographic organization. J Comp Neurol. 1981 Jul 01; 199(3):293-326. View in: PubMed

  91. Maunsell JH, Van Essen DC. Functional properties of neurons in middle temporal visual area of the macaque monkey. II. Binocular interactions and sensitivity to binocular disparity. J Neurophysiol. 1983 May; 49(5):1148-67. View in: PubMed

  92. Maunsell JH, Van Essen DC. Functional properties of neurons in middle temporal visual area of the macaque monkey. I. Selectivity for stimulus direction, speed, and orientation. J Neurophysiol. 1983 May; 49(5):1127-47. View in: PubMed

  93. Van Essen DC, Newsome WT, Maunsell JH. The visual field representation in striate cortex of the macaque monkey: asymmetries, anisotropies, and individual variability. Vision Res. 1984; 24(5):429-48. View in: PubMed

  94. Maunsell JH, van Essen DC. The connections of the middle temporal visual area (MT) and their relationship to a cortical hierarchy in the macaque monkey. J Neurosci. 1983 Dec; 3(12):2563-86. View in: PubMed

  95. Bixby JL, Maunsell JH, Van Essen DC. Effects of motor unit size on innervation patterns in neonatal mammals. Exp Neurol. 1980 Dec; 70(3):516-24. View in: PubMed

  96. Van Essen DC, Newsome WT, Maunsell JH, Bixby JL. The projections from striate cortex (V1) to areas V2 and V3 in the macaque monkey: asymmetries, areal boundaries, and patchy connections. J Comp Neurol. 1986 Feb 22; 244(4):451-80. View in: PubMed

  97. Newsome WT, Maunsell JH, Van Essen DC. Ventral posterior visual area of the macaque: visual topography and areal boundaries. J Comp Neurol. 1986 Oct 08; 252(2):139-53. View in: PubMed

  98. Schiller PH, Sandell JH, Maunsell JH. Functions of the ON and OFF channels of the visual system. Nature. 1986 Aug 28-Sep 3; 322(6082):824-5. View in: PubMed

  99. Schiller PH, Sandell JH, Maunsell JH. The effect of frontal eye field and superior colliculus lesions on saccadic latencies in the rhesus monkey. J Neurophysiol. 1987 Apr; 57(4):1033-49. View in: PubMed

  100. Haenny PE, Maunsell JH, Schiller PH. State dependent activity in monkey visual cortex. II. Retinal and extraretinal factors in V4. Exp Brain Res. 1988; 69(2):245-59. View in: PubMed

  101. Maunsell JH, Newsome WT. Visual processing in monkey extrastriate cortex. Annu Rev Neurosci. 1987; 10:363-401. View in: PubMed

  102. Maunsell JH. Representation of three-dimensional visual space in the cerebral cortex. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1988 Apr; 66(4):478-87. View in: PubMed

  103. Pasternak T, Horn KM, Maunsell JH. Deficits in speed discrimination following lesions of the lateral suprasylvian cortex in the cat. Vis Neurosci. 1989 Oct; 3(4):365-75. View in: PubMed

  104. Maunsell JH, Van Essen DC. Topographic organization of the middle temporal visual area in the macaque monkey: representational biases and the relationship to callosal connections and myeloarchitectonic boundaries. J Comp Neurol. 1987 Dec 22; 266(4):535-55. View in: PubMed

  105. Sclar G, Maunsell JH, Lennie P. Coding of image contrast in central visual pathways of the macaque monkey. Vision Res. 1990; 30(1):1-10. View in: PubMed

  106. Merigan WH, Maunsell JH. Macaque vision after magnocellular lateral geniculate lesions. Vis Neurosci. 1990 Oct; 5(4):347-52. View in: PubMed

  107. Maunsell JH, Nealey TA, DePriest DD. Magnocellular and parvocellular contributions to responses in the middle temporal visual area (MT) of the macaque monkey. J Neurosci. 1990 Oct; 10(10):3323-34. View in: PubMed

  108. Merigan WH, Katz LM, Maunsell JH. The effects of parvocellular lateral geniculate lesions on the acuity and contrast sensitivity of macaque monkeys. J Neurosci. 1991 Apr; 11(4):994-1001. View in: PubMed

  109. Merigan WH, Byrne CE, Maunsell JH. Does primate motion perception depend on the magnocellular pathway? J Neurosci. 1991 Nov; 11(11):3422-9. View in: PubMed

  110. Maunsell JH, Sclar G, Nealey TA, DePriest DD. Extraretinal representations in area V4 in the macaque monkey. Vis Neurosci. 1991 Dec; 7(6):561-73. View in: PubMed

  111. Maunsell JH. Functional visual streams. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1992 Aug; 2(4):506-10. View in: PubMed

  112. Ferrera VP, Nealey TA, Maunsell JH. Mixed parvocellular and magnocellular geniculate signals in visual area V4. Nature. 1992 Aug 27; 358(6389):756-61. View in: PubMed

  113. Pasternak T, Maunsell JH. Spatiotemporal sensitivity following lesions of area 18 in the cat. J Neurosci. 1992 Nov; 12(11):4521-9. View in: PubMed

  114. Maunsell JH, Gibson JR. Visual response latencies in striate cortex of the macaque monkey. J Neurophysiol. 1992 Oct; 68(4):1332-44. View in: PubMed