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J Neurophysiol. 2018 Oct 1;120(4):1625-1639. doi: 10.1152/jn.00224.2018. Epub 2018 Jul 5.

Dynamic communication of attention signals between the LGN and V1.

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Program in Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Dartmouth College , Hanover, New Hampshire.
Ernest J. Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, University of Rochester School of Medicine , Rochester, New York.
Physiology and Neurobiology Department, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Lebanon, New Hampshire.
Department of Neuroscience, University of Rochester School of Medicine , Rochester, New York.
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester , Rochester, New York.
Center for Visual Science, University of Rochester , Rochester, New York.


Correlations and inferred causal interactions among local field potentials (LFPs) simultaneously recorded in distinct visual brain areas can provide insight into how visual and cognitive signals are communicated between neuronal populations. Based on the known anatomical connectivity of hierarchically organized visual cortical areas and electrophysiological measurements of LFP interactions, a framework for interareal frequency-specific communication has emerged. Our goals were to test the predictions of this framework in the context of the early visual pathways and to understand how attention modulates communication between the visual thalamus and primary visual cortex. We recorded LFPs simultaneously in retinotopically aligned regions of the visual thalamus and primary visual cortex in alert and behaving macaque monkeys trained on a contrast-change detection task requiring covert shifts in visual spatial attention. Coherence and Granger-causal interactions among early visual circuits varied dynamically over different trial periods. Attention significantly enhanced alpha-, beta-, and gamma-frequency interactions, often in a manner consistent with the known anatomy of early visual circuits. However, attentional modulation of communication among early visual circuits was not consistent with a simple static framework in which distinct frequency bands convey directed inputs. Instead, neuronal network interactions in early visual circuits were flexible and dynamic, perhaps reflecting task-related shifts in attention. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Attention alters the way we perceive the visual world. For example, attention can modulate how visual information is communicated between the thalamus and cortex. We recorded local field potentials simultaneously in the visual thalamus and cortex to quantify the impact of attention on visual information communication. We found that attentional modulation of visual information communication was not static, but dynamic over the time course of trials.


Granger causality; LGN; V1; coherence; local field potential

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