Student Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

RU Laboratory

Gilbert Laboratory


V1 neurons are capable of integrating information over a large area of visual field. Their responses to local features are dependent on the global characteristics of contours and surfaces that extend well beyond their receptive fields. These contextual influences in V1 are subject to cognitive influences of attention, perceptual task and expectation. Previously it’s been shown that the response properties of V1 neurons change to carry more information about behaviorally relevant stimulus features (Li et al. 2004). We hypothesized that top-down modulation of effective connectivity within V1 underlies the behaviorally dependent modulations of contextual interactions in V1. To test this idea, we used a chronically implanted multi-electrode array in awake primates and studied the mechanisms of top-down control of contextual interactions in V1. We used a behavioral paradigm in which the animals performed two different perceptual tasks on the same stimulus and studied task-dependent changes in connectivity between V1 sites that encode the stimulus. We found that V1 interactions-both spiking and LFP interactions-showed significant task-dependent changes. The direction of the task-dependent changes observed in LFP interactions, measured by coherence between LFP signals, was dependent on the perceptual strategy used by the animal. Bisection task involving perceptual grouping of parallel lines increased LFP coherence while vernier task involving segregation of collinear line decrease LFP coherence. Also, grouping of collinear lines to detect a contour resulted in increased LFP interactions. Since noise correlations can affect the coding accuracy of a cortical network, we investigated how top-down processes of attention and perceptual task affect V1 noise correlations. We were able to study the noise correlation dynamics that were due to attentional shift separately from the changes due to the perceptual task being performed at the attended location. Top-down influences reduced V1 noise-correlations to a greater extent when the animal performed a discrimination task at the recorded locations compared to when the animal shifted its attention to the location. The reduction in noise correlation during the perceptual task was accompanied by a significant increase in the information carried about the stimulus (calculated as Fisher information). Our analysis was also able to determine the degree to which the task dependent change in information was due to the alteration in neuronal tuning compared to changes in correlated activity. Interestingly, the largest effects on information were seen between stimuli that had the greatest difficulty of discrimination.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Rockefeller University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

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