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Trends Neurosci. 1992 Jun;15(6):218-26.

Temporal coding in the visual cortex: new vistas on integration in the nervous system.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung, Frankfurt, FRG.


Although our knowledge of the cellular components of the cortex is accumulating rapidly, we are still largely ignorant about how distributed neuronal activity can be integrated to contribute to unified perception and behaviour. In the visual system, it is still unresolved how responses of feature-detecting neurons can be bound into representations of perceptual objects. Recent crosscorrelation studies show that visual cortical neurons synchronize their responses depending on how coherent features are in the visual field. These results support the hypothesis that temporal correlation of neuronal discharges may serve to bind distributed neuronal activity into unique representations. Furthermore, these studies indicate that neuronal responses with an oscillatory temporal structure may be particularly advantageous as carrier signals for such a temporal coding mechanism. Based on these recent findings, it is suggested here that binding of neuronal activity by a temporal code may provide a solution to the problem of integration in distributed neuronal networks.

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