Abstract

Visual search is a fundamental human behavior, providing a gateway to understanding other sensory domains as well as the role of search in higher-order cognition. Search has been proposed to include two component processes: inefficient search (search) and efficient search (pop-out). According to extant research, these two processes map onto two separable neural systems located in the frontal and parietal association cortices. In this study, we use intracranial recordings from 23 participants to delineate the neural correlates of search and pop-out with an unprecedented combination of spatiotemporal resolution and coverage across cortical and subcortical structures. First, we demonstrate a role for the medial temporal lobe in visual search, on par with engagement in frontal and parietal association cortex. Second, we show a gradient of increasing engagement over anatomical space from dorsal to ventral lateral frontal cortex. Third, we confirm previous intracranial work demonstrating nearly complete overlap in neural engagement across cortical regions in search and pop-out. We further demonstrate pop-out selectivity, manifesting as activity increase in pop-out as compared to search, in a distributed set of sites including frontal cortex. This result is at odds with the view that pop-out is implemented in low-level visual cortex or parietal cortex alone. Finally, we affirm a central role for the right lateral frontal cortex in search.

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