Neural responses in the cerebral cortex change dramatically between the 'synchronized' state during sleep and 'desynchronized' state during wakefulness. Our understanding of cortical state emerges largely from experiments performed in sensory areas of head-fixed or tethered rodents due to technical limitations of recording from larger freely-moving animals for several hours. Here, we report a system integrating wireless electrophysiology, wireless eye tracking, and real-time video analysis to examine the dynamics of population activity in a high-level, executive area - dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) of unrestrained monkey. This technology allows us to identify cortical substates during quiet and active wakefulness, and transitions in population activity during rest. We further show that narrow-spiking neurons exhibit stronger synchronized fluctuations in population activity than broad-spiking neurons regardless of state. Our results show that cortical state is controlled by behavioral demands and arousal by asymmetrically modulating the slow response fluctuations of local excitatory and inhibitory cell populations.