Feedback connections are a prominent feature of cortical anatomy and are likely to have a significant functional role in neural information processing. We present a neural network model of cortical feedback that successfully simulates neurophysiological data associated with attention. In this domain, our model can be considered a more detailed, and biologically plausible, implementation of the biased competition model of attention. However, our model is more general as it can also explain a variety of other top-down processes in vision, such as figure/ground segmentation and contextual cueing. This model thus suggests that a common mechanism, involving cortical feedback pathways, is responsible for a range of phenomena and provides a unified account of currently disparate areas of research.