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Anisotropy of ongoing neural activity in the primate visual cortex

Authors Maier A, Cox M, Dougherty K, Moore B, Leopold D

Received 18 December 2013

Accepted for publication 25 February 2014

Published 23 September 2014 Volume 2014:6(Thematic series: Organization and function of the visual system in primates) Pages 113—120


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Alexander Maier,1 Michele A Cox,1 Kacie Dougherty,1 Brandon Moore,1 David A Leopold2

1Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Science, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA; 2Section on Cognitive Neurophysiology and Imaging, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

Abstract: The mammalian neocortex features distinct anatomical variation in its tangential and radial extents. This review consolidates previously published findings from our group in order to compare and contrast the spatial profile of neural activity coherence across these distinct cortical dimensions. We focus on studies of ongoing local field potential (LFP) data obtained simultaneously from multiple sites in the primary visual cortex in two types of experiments in which electrode contacts were spaced either along the cortical surface or at different laminar positions. These studies demonstrate that across both dimensions the coherence of ongoing LFP fluctuations diminishes as a function of interelectrode distance, although the nature and spatial scale of this falloff is very different. Along the cortical surface, the overall LFP coherence declines gradually and continuously away from a given position. In contrast, across the cortical layers, LFP coherence is discontinuous and compartmentalized as a function of depth. Specifically, regions of high LFP coherence fall into discrete superficial and deep laminar zones, with an abrupt discontinuity between the granular and infragranular layers. This spatial pattern of ongoing LFP coherence is similar when animals are at rest and when they are engaged in a behavioral task. These results point to the existence of partially segregated laminar zones of cortical processing that extend tangentially within the laminar compartments and are thus oriented orthogonal to the cortical columns. We interpret these electrophysiological observations in light of the known anatomical organization of the cortical microcircuit.

Keywords: visual cortex, connectivity, local field potential, coherence

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