Prefrontal activity sharpens spatial sensitivity of extrastriate neurons

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Prefrontal activity sharpens spatial sensitivity of extrastriate neurons


Vanegas, M. I.; Akbarian, A.; Clark, K. L.; Nesse, W. H.; Noudoost, B.


Prefrontal cortex is known to exert its control over representation of visual signals in extrastriate areas such as V4. Frontal Eye Field (FEF) is suggested to be the proxy for the prefrontal control of visual signals. However, it is not known which aspects of sensory representation within extrastriate areas are under the influence of FEF activity. We employed a causal manipulation to examine how FEF activity contributes to spatial sensitivity of extrastriate neurons. Finding FEF and V4 areas with overlapping response field (RF) in two macaque monkeys, we recorded V4 responses before and after inactivation of the overlapping FEF. We assessed spatial sensitivity of V4 neurons in terms of their response gain, RF spread, coding capacity, and spatial discriminability. Unexpectedly, we found that in the absence of FEF activity, spontaneous and visually-evoked activity of V4 neurons both increase and their RFs enlarge. However, assessing the spatial sensitivity within V4, we found that these changes were associated with a reduction in the ability of V4 neurons to represent spatial information: After FEF inactivation, V4 neurons showed a reduced response gain and a decrease in their spatial discriminability and coding capacity. These results show the necessity of FEF activity for shaping spatial responses of extrastriate neurons and indicates the importance of FEF inputs in sharpening the sensitivity of V4 responses.

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