Deployment of covert attention to a spatial location can cause large decreases in low-frequency correlated variability among neurons in macaque area V4 whose receptive-fields lie at the attended location. It has been estimated that this reduction accounts for a substantial fraction of the attention-mediated improvement in sensory processing. These estimates depend on assumptions about how population signals are decoded and the conclusion that correlated variability impairs perception, is purely hypothetical. Here we test this proposal directly by optogenetically inducing low-frequency fluctuations, to see if this interferes with performance in an attention-demanding task. We find that low-frequency optical stimulation of neurons in V4 elevates correlations among pairs of neurons and impairs the animal's ability to make fine sensory discriminations. Stimulation at higher frequencies does not impair performance, despite comparable modulation of neuronal responses. These results support the hypothesis that attention-dependent reductions in correlated variability contribute to improved perception of attended stimuli.
Data for the main figures are available via Dryad (doi:10.5061/dryad.8v0k1j3).
Data from: Optogenetically induced low-frequency correlations impair perceptionDryad Digital Repository, doi:10.5061/dryad.8v0k1j3.
- John H Reynolds
- Anirvan S Nandy
- Jonathan J Nassi
- Monika P Jadi
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health. All of the animals were handled according to approved institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) protocols of the Salk Institute. All procedures were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the Salk Institute (Protocol #14-00014) and conformed to NIH guidelines.
- Tatiana Pasternak, University of Rochester, United States
© 2019, Nandy et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.