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J Neurosci. 2014 Dec 3;34(49):16408-16. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2750-14.2014.

Global cognitive factors modulate correlated response variability between V4 neurons.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213.
2
Department of Neuroscience and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213 cohenm@pitt.edu.

Abstract

Recent studies have shown that cognitive factors such as spatial and feature-based attention, learning, and task-switching can change the extent to which the trial-to-trial variability in the responses of neurons in sensory cortex is shared between pairs of neurons (for review, see Cohen and Kohn, 2011). Global cognitive factors related to concentration, motivation, effort, arousal, or alertness also affect performance on perceptual tasks and the responses of individual neurons in many cortical areas (Spitzer et al., 1988; Spitzer and Richmond, 1991; Motter, 1993; Bichot et al., 2001; Hasegawa et al., 2004; Boudreau et al., 2006; Niwa et al., 2012). The question of how global cognitive factors affect correlated response variability is important because these factors likely vary both across and within all psychophysical and physiological studies. Furthermore, global cognitive factors might provide a convenient platform for studying the neuronal mechanisms underlying how cognitive factors affect correlated variability because they can be manipulated easily without training complex perceptual tasks. We recorded simultaneously from groups of neurons in visual area V4 while rhesus monkeys performed a contrast discrimination task whose difficulty changed in blocks of trials. We found that correlated variability decreased when the task was more difficult, even when the visual stimuli were far outside the receptive fields of the recorded neurons. Our results suggest that studying global cognitive factors might provide a general framework for studying how cognitive factors affect the responses of neurons throughout sensory cortex.

KEYWORDS:

V4; multielectrode recordings; population coding; variability; visual cortex

PMID:
25471578
PMCID:
PMC4252550
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2750-14.2014
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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