ABSTRACT: Several recent studies have demonstrated that the bottom-up signaling of a visual stimulus is subserved by interareal gamma-band synchronization, whereas top-down influences are mediated by alpha-beta band synchronization. These processes may implement top-down control of stimulus processing if top-down and bottom-up mediating rhythms are coupled via cross-frequency interaction. To test this possibility, we investigated Granger-causal influences among awake macaque primary visual area V1, higher visual area V4, and parietal control area 7a during attentional task performance. Top-down 7a-to-V1 beta-band influences enhanced visually driven V1-to-V4 gamma-band influences. This enhancement was spatially specific and largest when beta-band activity preceded gamma-band activity by ∼0.1 s, suggesting a causal effect of top-down processes on bottom-up processes. We propose that this cross-frequency interaction mechanistically subserves the attentional control of stimulus selection.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Contemporary research indicates that the alpha-beta frequency band underlies top-down control, whereas the gamma-band mediates bottom-up stimulus processing. This arrangement inspires an attractive hypothesis, which posits that top-down beta-band influences directly modulate bottom-up gamma band influences via cross-frequency interaction. We evaluate this hypothesis determining that beta-band top-down influences from parietal area 7a to visual area V1 are correlated with bottom-up gamma frequency influences from V1 to area V4, in a spatially specific manner, and that this correlation is maximal when top-down activity precedes bottom-up activity. These results show that for top-down processes such as spatial attention, elevated top-down beta-band influences directly enhance feedforward stimulus-induced gamma-band processing, leading to enhancement of the selected stimulus.
Project description:Top-down modulation of sensory processing is a critical neural mechanism subserving numerous important cognitive roles, one of which may be to inform lower-order sensory systems of the current 'task at hand' by conveying behavioral context to these systems. Accumulating evidence indicates that top-down cortical influences are carried by directed interareal synchronization of oscillatory neuronal populations, with recent results pointing to beta-frequency oscillations as particularly important for top-down processing. However, it remains to be determined if top-down beta-frequency oscillations indeed convey behavioral context. We measured spectral Granger Causality (sGC) using local field potentials recorded from microelectrodes chronically implanted in visual areas V1/V2, V4, and TEO of two rhesus macaque monkeys, and applied multivariate pattern analysis to the spatial patterns of top-down sGC. We decoded behavioral context by discriminating patterns of top-down (V4/TEO-to-V1/V2) beta-peak sGC for two different task rules governing correct responses to identical visual stimuli. The results indicate that top-down directed influences are carried to visual cortex by beta oscillations, and differentiate task demands even before visual stimulus processing. They suggest that top-down beta-frequency oscillatory processes coordinate processing of sensory information by conveying global knowledge states to early levels of the sensory cortical hierarchy independently of bottom-up stimulus-driven processing.
Project description:Primate visual cortex is hierarchically organized. Bottom-up and top-down influences are exerted through distinct frequency channels, as was recently revealed in macaques by correlating inter-areal influences with laminar anatomical projection patterns. Because this anatomical data cannot be obtained in human subjects, we selected seven homologous macaque and human visual areas, and we correlated the macaque laminar projection patterns to human inter-areal directed influences as measured with magnetoencephalography. We show that influences along feedforward projections predominate in the gamma band, whereas influences along feedback projections predominate in the alpha-beta band. Rhythmic inter-areal influences constrain a functional hierarchy of the seven homologous human visual areas that is in close agreement with the respective macaque anatomical hierarchy. Rhythmic influences allow an extension of the hierarchy to 26 human visual areas including uniquely human brain areas. Hierarchical levels of ventral- and dorsal-stream visual areas are differentially affected by inter-areal influences in the alpha-beta band.
Project description:Predictive coding models propose that predictions (stimulus likelihood) reduce sensory signals as early as primary visual cortex (V1), and that attention (stimulus relevance) can modulate these effects. Indeed, both prediction and attention have been shown to modulate V1 activity, albeit with fMRI, which has low temporal resolution. This leaves it unclear whether these effects reflect a modulation of the first feedforward sweep of visual information processing and/or later, feedback-related activity. In two experiments, we used electroencephalography and orthogonally manipulated spatial predictions and attention to address this issue. Although clear top-down biases were found, as reflected in pre-stimulus alpha-band activity, we found no evidence for top-down effects on the earliest visual cortical processing stage (<80 ms post-stimulus), as indexed by the amplitude of the C1 event-related potential component and multivariate pattern analyses. These findings indicate that initial visual afferent activity may be impenetrable to top-down influences by spatial prediction and attention.
Project description:In daily life, complex events are perceived in a causal manner, suggesting that the brain relies on predictive processes to model them. Within predictive coding theory, oscillatory beta-band activity has been linked to top-down predictive signals and gamma-band activity to bottom-up prediction errors. However, neurocognitive evidence for predictive coding outside lower-level sensory areas is scarce. We used magnetoencephalography to investigate neural activity during probability-dependent action perception in three areas pivotal for causal inference, superior temporal sulcus, temporoparietal junction and medial prefrontal cortex, using bowling action animations. Within this network, Granger-causal connectivity in the beta-band was found to be strongest for backward top-down connections and gamma for feed-forward bottom-up connections. Moreover, beta-band power in TPJ increased parametrically with the predictability of the action kinematics-outcome sequences. Conversely, gamma-band power in TPJ and MPFC increased with prediction error. These findings suggest that the brain utilizes predictive-coding-like computations for higher-order cognition such as perception of causal events.
Project description:When a sensory stimulus repeats, neuronal firing rate and functional MRI blood oxygen level-dependent responses typically decline, yet perception and behavioral performance either stay constant or improve. An additional aspect of neuronal activity is neuronal synchronization, which can enhance the impact of neurons onto their postsynaptic targets independent of neuronal firing rates. We show that stimulus repetition leads to profound changes of neuronal gamma-band (?40-90 Hz) synchronization. Electrocorticographic recordings in two awake macaque monkeys demonstrated that repeated presentations of a visual grating stimulus resulted in a steady increase of visually induced gamma-band activity in area V1, gamma-band synchronization between areas V1 and V4, and gamma-band activity in area V4. Microelectrode recordings in area V4 of two additional monkeys under the same stimulation conditions allowed a direct comparison of firing rates and gamma-band synchronization strengths for multiunit activity (MUA), as well as for isolated single units, sorted into putative pyramidal cells and putative interneurons. MUA and putative interneurons showed repetition-related decreases in firing rate, yet increases in gamma-band synchronization. Putative pyramidal cells showed no repetition-related firing rate change, but a decrease in gamma-band synchronization for weakly stimulus-driven units and constant gamma-band synchronization for strongly driven units. We propose that the repetition-related changes in gamma-band synchronization maintain the interareal stimulus signaling and sharpen the stimulus representation by gamma-synchronized pyramidal cell spikes.
Project description:Some individuals with autism spectrum (AS) perform better on visual reasoning tasks than would be predicted by their general cognitive performance. In individuals with AS, mechanisms in the brain's visual area that underlie visual processing play a more prominent role in visual reasoning tasks than they do in normal individuals. In addition, increased connectivity with the visual area is thought to be one of the neural bases of autistic visual cognitive abilities. However, the contribution of such brain connectivity to visual cognitive abilities is not well understood, particularly in children. In this study, we investigated how functional connectivity between the visual areas and higher-order regions, which is reflected by alpha, beta and gamma band oscillations, contributes to the performance of visual reasoning tasks in typically developing (TD) (n = 18) children and AS children (n = 18). Brain activity was measured using a custom child-sized magneto-encephalograph. Imaginary coherence analysis was used as a proxy to estimate the functional connectivity between the occipital and other areas of the brain. Stronger connectivity from the occipital area, as evidenced by higher imaginary coherence in the gamma band, was associated with higher performance in the AS children only. We observed no significant correlation between the alpha or beta bands imaginary coherence and performance in the both groups. Alpha and beta bands reflect top-down pathways, while gamma band oscillations reflect a bottom-up influence. Therefore, our results suggest that visual reasoning in AS children is at least partially based on an enhanced reliance on visual perception and increased bottom-up connectivity from the visual areas.
Project description:Stimuli associated with high rewards evoke stronger neuronal activity than stimuli associated with lower rewards in many brain regions. It is not well understood how these reward effects influence activity in sensory cortices that represent low-level stimulus features. Here, we investigated the effects of reward information in the primary visual cortex (area V1) of monkeys. We found that the reward value of a stimulus relative to the value of other stimuli is a good predictor of V1 activity. Relative value biases the competition between stimuli, just as has been shown for selective attention. The neuronal latency of this reward value effect in V1 was similar to the latency of attentional influences. Moreover, V1 neurons with a strong value effect also exhibited a strong attention effect, which implies that relative value and top-down attention engage overlapping, if not identical, neuronal selection mechanisms. Our findings demonstrate that the effects of reward value reach down to the earliest sensory processing levels of the cerebral cortex and imply that theories about the effects of reward coding and top-down attention on visual representations should be unified.
Project description:A central motif in neuronal networks is convergence, linking several input neurons to one target neuron. In visual cortex, convergence renders target neurons responsive to complex stimuli. Yet, convergence typically sends multiple stimuli to a target, and the behaviorally relevant stimulus must be selected. We used two stimuli, activating separate electrocorticographic V1 sites, and both activating an electrocorticographic V4 site equally strongly. When one of those stimuli activated one V1 site, it gamma synchronized (60-80 Hz) to V4. When the two stimuli activated two V1 sites, primarily the relevant one gamma synchronized to V4. Frequency bands of gamma activities showed substantial overlap containing the band of interareal coherence. The relevant V1 site had its gamma peak frequency 2-3 Hz higher than the irrelevant V1 site and 4-6 Hz higher than V4. Gamma-mediated interareal influences were predominantly directed from V1 to V4. We propose that selective synchronization renders relevant input effective, thereby modulating effective connectivity.
Project description:In complex visual scenes, linking related contour elements is important for object recognition. This process, thought to be stimulus driven and hard wired, has substrates in primary visual cortex (V1). Here, however, we find contour integration in V1 to depend strongly on perceptual learning and top-down influences that are specific to contour detection. In naive monkeys, the information about contours embedded in complex backgrounds is absent in V1 neuronal responses and is independent of the locus of spatial attention. Training animals to find embedded contours induces strong contour-related responses specific to the trained retinotopic region. These responses are most robust when animals perform the contour detection task but disappear under anesthesia. Our findings suggest that top-down influences dynamically adapt neural circuits according to specific perceptual tasks. This may serve as a general neuronal mechanism of perceptual learning and reflect top-down mediated changes in cortical states.
Project description:Perceptual learning is often orientation and location specific, which may indicate neuronal plasticity in early visual areas. However, learning specificity diminishes with additional exposure of the transfer orientation or location via irrelevant tasks, suggesting that the specificity is related to untrained conditions, likely because neurons representing untrained conditions are neither bottom-up stimulated nor top-down attended during training. To demonstrate these top-down and bottom-up contributions, we applied a "continuous flash suppression" technique to suppress the exposure stimulus into sub-consciousness, and with additional manipulations to achieve pure bottom-up stimulation or top-down attention with the transfer condition. We found that either bottom-up or top-down influences enabled significant transfer of orientation and Vernier discrimination learning. These results suggest that learning specificity may result from under-activations of untrained visual neurons due to insufficient bottom-up stimulation and/or top-down attention during training. High-level perceptual learning thus may not functionally connect to these neurons for learning transfer.