Year of publication
- Distributed fading memory for stimulus properties in the primary visual cortex (2009)
- It is currently not known how distributed neuronal responses in early visual areas carry stimulus-related information. We made multielectrode recordings from cat primary visual cortex and applied methods from machine learning in order to analyze the temporal evolution of stimulus-related information in the spiking activity of large ensembles of around 100 neurons. We used sequences of up to three different visual stimuli (letters of the alphabet) presented for 100 ms and with intervals of 100 ms or larger. Most of the information about visual stimuli extractable by sophisticated methods of machine learning, i.e., support vector machines with nonlinear kernel functions, was also extractable by simple linear classification such as can be achieved by individual neurons. New stimuli did not erase information about previous stimuli. The responses to the most recent stimulus contained about equal amounts of information about both this and the preceding stimulus. This information was encoded both in the discharge rates (response amplitudes) of the ensemble of neurons and, when using short time constants for integration (e.g., 20 ms), in the precise timing of individual spikes (<= ~20 ms), and persisted for several 100 ms beyond the offset of stimuli. The results indicate that the network from which we recorded is endowed with fading memory and is capable of performing online computations utilizing information about temporally sequential stimuli. This result challenges models assuming frame-by-frame analyses of sequential inputs.
- Performance- and stimulus-dependent oscillations in monkey prefrontal cortex during short-term memory (2009)
- Short-term memory requires the coordination of sub-processes like encoding, retention, retrieval and comparison of stored material to subsequent input. Neuronal oscillations have an inherent time structure, can effectively coordinate synaptic integration of large neuron populations and could therefore organize and integrate distributed sub-processes in time and space. We observed field potential oscillations (14–95 Hz) in ventral prefrontal cortex of monkeys performing a visual memory task. Stimulus-selective and performance-dependent oscillations occurred simultaneously at 65–95 Hz and 14–50 Hz, the latter being phase-locked throughout memory maintenance. We propose that prefrontal oscillatory activity may be instrumental for the dynamical integration of local and global neuronal processes underlying short-term memory.
- Deficits in high- (>60 Hz) gamma-band oscillations during visual processing in schizophrenia (2013)
- Current theories of the pathophysiology of schizophrenia have focused on abnormal temporal coordination of neural activity. Oscillations in the gamma-band range (>25 Hz) are of particular interest as they establish synchronization with great precision in local cortical networks. However, the contribution of high gamma (>60 Hz) oscillations toward the pathophysiology is less established. To address this issue, we recorded magnetoencephalographic (MEG) data from 16 medicated patients with chronic schizophrenia and 16 controls during the perception of Mooney faces. MEG data were analysed in the 25–150 Hz frequency range. Patients showed elevated reaction times and reduced detection rates during the perception of upright Mooney faces while responses to inverted stimuli were intact. Impaired processing of Mooney faces in schizophrenia patients was accompanied by a pronounced reduction in spectral power between 60–120 Hz (effect size: d = 1.26) which was correlated with disorganized symptoms (r = −0.72). Our findings demonstrate that deficits in high gamma-band oscillations as measured by MEG are a sensitive marker for aberrant cortical functioning in schizophrenia, suggesting an important aspect of the pathophysiology of the disorder.
- Distributed processing and temporal codes in neuronal networks (2009)
- The cerebral cortex presents itself as a distributed dynamical system with the characteristics of a small world network. The neuronal correlates of cognitive and executive processes often appear to consist of the coordinated activity of large assemblies of widely distributed neurons. These features require mechanisms for the selective routing of signals across densely interconnected networks, the flexible and context dependent binding of neuronal groups into functionally coherent assemblies and the task and attention dependent integration of subsystems. In order to implement these mechanisms, it is proposed that neuronal responses should convey two orthogonal messages in parallel. They should indicate (1) the presence of the feature to which they are tuned and (2) with which other neurons (specific target cells or members of a coherent assembly) they are communicating. The first message is encoded in the discharge frequency of the neurons (rate code) and it is proposed that the second message is contained in the precise timing relationships between individual spikes of distributed neurons (temporal code). It is further proposed that these precise timing relations are established either by the timing of external events (stimulus locking) or by internal timing mechanisms. The latter are assumed to consist of an oscillatory modulation of neuronal responses in different frequency bands that cover a broad frequency range from <2 Hz (delta) to >40 Hz (gamma) and ripples. These oscillations limit the communication of cells to short temporal windows whereby the duration of these windows decreases with oscillation frequency. Thus, by varying the phase relationship between oscillating groups, networks of functionally cooperating neurons can be flexibly configurated within hard wired networks. Moreover, by synchronizing the spikes emitted by neuronal populations, the saliency of their responses can be enhanced due to the coincidence sensitivity of receiving neurons in very much the same way as can be achieved by increasing the discharge rate. Experimental evidence will be reviewed in support of the coexistence of rate and temporal codes. Evidence will also be provided that disturbances of temporal coding mechanisms are likely to be one of the pathophysiological mechanisms in schizophrenia.
- Saccade-related modulations of neuronal excitability support synchrony of visually elicited spikes (2011)
- During natural vision, primates perform frequent saccadic eye movements, allowing only a narrow time window for processing the visual information at each location. Individual neurons may contribute only with a few spikes to the visual processing during each fixation, suggesting precise spike timing as a relevant mechanism for information processing. We recently found in V1 of monkeys freely viewing natural images, that fixation-related spike synchronization occurs at the early phase of the rate response after fixation-onset, suggesting a specific role of the first response spikes in V1. Here, we show that there are strong local field potential (LFP) modulations locked to the onset of saccades, which continue into the successive fixation periods. Visually induced spikes, in particular the first spikes after the onset of a fixation, are locked to a specific epoch of the LFP modulation. We suggest that the modulation of neural excitability, which is reflected by the saccade-related LFP changes, serves as a corollary signal enabling precise timing of spikes in V1 and thereby providing a mechanism for spike synchronization.
- Neural synchrony in cortical networks: history, concept and current status (2009)
- Following the discovery of context-dependent synchronization of oscillatory neuronal responses in the visual system, the role of neural synchrony in cortical networks has been expanded to provide a general mechanism for the coordination of distributed neural activity patterns. In the current paper, we present an update of the status of this hypothesis through summarizing recent results from our laboratory that suggest important new insights regarding the mechanisms, function and relevance of this phenomenon. In the first part, we present recent results derived from animal experiments and mathematical simulations that provide novel explanations and mechanisms for zero and nero-zero phase lag synchronization. In the second part, we shall discuss the role of neural synchrony for expectancy during perceptual organization and its role in conscious experience. This will be followed by evidence that indicates that in addition to supporting conscious cognition, neural synchrony is abnormal in major brain disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. We conclude this paper with suggestions for further research as well as with critical issues that need to be addressed in future studies.
- Membrane resonance enables stable and robust gamma oscillations (2012)
- Neuronal mechanisms underlying beta/gamma oscillations (20-80 Hz) are not completely understood. Here, we show that in vivo beta/gamma oscillations in the cat visual cortex sometimes exhibit remarkably stable frequency even when inputs fluctuate dramatically. Enhanced frequency stability is associated with stronger oscillations measured in individual units and larger power in the local field potential. Simulations of neuronal circuitry demonstrate that membrane properties of inhibitory interneurons strongly determine the characteristics of emergent oscillations. Exploration of networks containing either integrator or resonator inhibitory interneurons revealed that: (i) Resonance, as opposed to integration, promotes robust oscillations with large power and stable frequency via a mechanism called RING (Resonance INduced Gamma); resonance favors synchronization by reducing phase delays between interneurons and imposes bounds on oscillation cycle duration; (ii) Stability of frequency and robustness of the oscillation also depend on the relative timing of excitatory and inhibitory volleys within the oscillation cycle; (iii) RING can reproduce characteristics of both Pyramidal INterneuron Gamma (PING) and INterneuron Gamma (ING), transcending such classifications; (iv) In RING, robust gamma oscillations are promoted by slow but are impaired by fast inputs. Results suggest that interneuronal membrane resonance can be an important ingredient for generation of robust gamma oscillations having stable frequency.
- Untangling perceptual memory: hysteresis and adaptation map into separate cortical networks (2012)
- Perception is an active inferential process in which prior knowledge is combined with sensory input, the result of which determines the contents of awareness. Accordingly, previous experience is known to help the brain “decide” what to perceive. However, a critical aspect that has not been addressed is that previous experience can exert 2 opposing effects on perception: An attractive effect, sensitizing the brain to perceive the same again (hysteresis), or a repulsive effect, making it more likely to perceive something else (adaptation). We used functional magnetic resonance imaging and modeling to elucidate how the brain entertains these 2 opposing processes, and what determines the direction of such experience-dependent perceptual effects. We found that although affecting our perception concurrently, hysteresis and adaptation map into distinct cortical networks: a widespread network of higher-order visual and fronto-parietal areas was involved in perceptual stabilization, while adaptation was confined to early visual areas. This areal and hierarchical segregation may explain how the brain maintains the balance between exploiting redundancies and staying sensitive to new information. We provide a Bayesian model that accounts for the coexistence of hysteresis and adaptation by separating their causes into 2 distinct terms: Hysteresis alters the prior, whereas adaptation changes the sensory evidence (the likelihood function).
- Callosal connections of primary visual cortex predict the spatial spreading of binocular rivalry across the visual hemifields (2011)
- In binocular rivalry, presentation of different images to the separate eyes leads to conscious perception alternating between the two possible interpretations every few seconds. During perceptual transitions, a stimulus emerging into dominance can spread in a wave-like manner across the visual field. These traveling waves of rivalry dominance have been successfully related to the cortical magnification properties and functional activity of early visual areas, including the primary visual cortex (V1). Curiously however, these traveling waves undergo a delay when passing from one hemifield to another. In the current study, we used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to investigate whether the strength of interhemispheric connections between the left and right visual cortex might be related to the delay of traveling waves across hemifields. We measured the delay in traveling wave times (ΔTWT) in 19 participants and repeated this test 6 weeks later to evaluate the reliability of our behavioral measures. We found large interindividual variability but also good test–retest reliability for individual measures of ΔTWT. Using DTI in connection with fiber tractography, we identified parts of the corpus callosum connecting functionally defined visual areas V1–V3. We found that individual differences in ΔTWT was reliably predicted by the diffusion properties of transcallosal fibers connecting left and right V1, but observed no such effect for neighboring transcallosal visual fibers connecting V2 and V3. Our results demonstrate that the anatomical characteristics of topographically specific transcallosal connections predict the individual delay of interhemispheric traveling waves, providing further evidence that V1 is an important site for neural processes underlying binocular rivalry.
- Detecting multineuronal temporal patterns in parallel spike trains (2012)
- We present a non-parametric and computationally efficient method that detects spatiotemporal firing patterns and pattern sequences in parallel spike trains and tests whether the observed numbers of repeating patterns and sequences on a given timescale are significantly different from those expected by chance. The method is generally applicable and uncovers coordinated activity with arbitrary precision by comparing it to appropriate surrogate data. The analysis of coherent patterns of spatially and temporally distributed spiking activity on various timescales enables the immediate tracking of diverse qualities of coordinated firing related to neuronal state changes and information processing. We apply the method to simulated data and multineuronal recordings from rat visual cortex and show that it reliably discriminates between data sets with random pattern occurrences and with additional exactly repeating spatiotemporal patterns and pattern sequences. Multineuronal cortical spiking activity appears to be precisely coordinated and exhibits a sequential organization beyond the cell assembly concept.