Visual area V4 is a midtier cortical area in the ventral visual pathway. It is crucial for visual object recognition and has been a focus of many studies on visual attention. However, there is no unifying view of V4's role in visual processing. Neither is there an understanding of how its role in feature processing interfaces with its role in visual attention. This review captures our current knowledge of V4, largely derived from electrophysiological and imaging studies in the macaque monkey. Based on recent discovery of functionally specific domains in V4, we propose that the unifying function of V4 circuitry is to enable selective extraction of specific functional domain-based networks, whether it be by bottom-up specification of object features or by top-down attentionally driven selection. In this Review, Roe and colleagues discuss our current knowledge of visual area V4 and propose that V4 circuitry enables selective extraction of specific functional domain-based networks to enable visual processing.
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