Visually triggered neuronal oscillations in the pigeon: an autocorrelation study of tectal activity

Eur J Neurosci. 1993 Jul 1;5(7):870-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.1993.tb00939.x.


In this study we describe visually triggered gamma oscillations in the optic tectum of awake pigeons. This study was motivated by the potential relevance of synchronous oscillatory responses in perceptual binding in a laminated structure other than the mammalian neocortex. Tectal responses were recorded as local field potential and multiunit activity by differential filtering. The local field potential was analysed by computing its autocorrelation function and spectral power with a moving window applied to single response sweeps. The temporal structure of the spike trains was evaluated by computing averaged autocorrelograms. A damped sine wave function was fitted to the autocorrelograms in order to quantify the degree of oscillation of both signals. Epochs of significant oscillatory activity were observed in the local field potential in 60% of the trials (n = 39). In all trials, significant oscillations occupied approximately 10% of the time the stimulus was present. The oscillatory events in both the local field potential and the multiunit activity had frequencies in the range of 20-50 Hz. It is important to emphasize the great variability in the frequency and in the probability of occurrence of the oscillatory responses from trial to trial, which makes the oscillatory behaviour of the tectal activity highly non-stationary. The oscillatory activity we describe in the avian tectum has characteristics similar to those reported in the mammalian neocortex. These findings from a fully awake animal strengthen the universality of oscillations as a possible carrier for synchronization of activity in the constitution of neuronal assemblies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Anesthesia
  • Animals
  • Columbidae / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Halothane
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Oscillometry
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Superior Colliculi / cytology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*


  • Halothane