Microstimulation in the primary visual cortex: activity patterns and their relation to visual responses and evoked saccades

Cereb Cortex. 2022 Oct 27;bhac409. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhac409. Online ahead of print.


Intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) in the primary visual cortex (V1) can generate the visual perception of a small point of light, termed phosphene, and evoke saccades directed to the receptive field of the stimulated neurons. Although ICMS is widely used, a direct measurement of the spatio-temporal patterns of neural activity evoked by ICMS and their relation to the neural responses evoked by visual stimuli or how they relate to ICMS-evoked saccades are still missing. To investigate this, we combined ICMS with voltage-sensitive dye imaging in V1 of behaving monkeys and measured neural activity at a high spatial (meso-scale) and temporal resolution. We then compared the population response evoked by small visual stimuli to those evoked by microstimulation. Both stimulation types evoked population activity that spread over few millimeters in V1 and propagated to extrastriate areas. However, the population responses evoked by ICMS have shown faster dynamics for the activation transients and the horizontal propagation of activity revealed a wave-like propagation. Finally, neural activity in the ICMS condition was higher for trials with evoked saccades as compared with trials without saccades. Our results uncover the spatio-temporal patterns evoked by ICMS and their relation to visual processing and saccade generation.

Keywords: intracortical microstimulation; nonhuman primates; primary visual cortex; saccade; voltage-sensitive dye imaging.