High-order coordination of cortical spiking activity modulates perceptual accuracy.


Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, McGovern Medical School, University of Texas, Houston, TX, USA. [Email]


The accurate relay of electrical signals within cortical networks is key to perception and cognitive function. Theoretically, it has long been proposed that temporal coordination of neuronal spiking activity controls signal transmission and behavior. However, whether and how temporally precise neuronal coordination in population activity influences perception are unknown. Here, we recorded populations of neurons in early and mid-level visual cortex (areas V1 and V4) simultaneously to discover that the precise temporal coordination between the spiking activity of three or more cells carries information about visual perception in the absence of firing rate modulation. The accuracy of perceptual responses correlated with high-order spiking coordination within V4, but not V1, and with feedforward coordination between V1 and V4. These results indicate that while visual stimuli are encoded in the discharge rates of neurons, perceptual accuracy is related to temporally precise spiking coordination within and between cortical networks.

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