Coherent oscillations: a mechanism of feature linking in the visual cortex? Multiple electrode and correlation analyses in the cat

Biol Cybern. 1988;60(2):121-30. doi: 10.1007/BF00202899.


Primary visual coding can be characterized by the receptive field (RF) properties of single neurons. Subject of this paper is our search for a global, second coding step beyond the RF-concept that links related features in a visual scene. In recent models of visual coding, oscillatory activities have been proposed to constitute such linking signals. We tested the neurophysiological relevance of this hypothesis for the visual system. Single and multiple spikes as well as local field potentials were recorded simultaneously from several locations in the primary visual cortex (A17 and A18) using 7 or 19 individually advanceable fiber-microelectrodes (250 or 330 microns apart). Stimulus-evoked (SE)-resonances of 35-85 Hz were found in these three types of signals throughout the visual cortex when the primary coding channels were activated by their specific stimuli. Stimulus position, orientation, movement direction and velocity, ocularity and stationary flicker caused specific SE-resonances. Coherent SE-resonances were found at distant cortical positions when at least one of the primary coding properties was similar. Coherence was found 1) within a vertical cortex column, 2) between neighbouring hypercolumns, and 3) between two different cortical areas. We assume that the coherence of SE-resonances is mediated by recurrent excitatory intra- and inter-areal connections via phase locking between assemblies that represent the linking features of the actual visual scene. Visually related activities are, thus, transiently labelled by a temporal code that signalizes their momentary association.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cats
  • Electrodes
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Time Factors
  • Vision, Monocular
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*