Visuomotor integration is associated with zero time-lag synchronization among cortical areas

Nature. 1997 Jan 9;385(6612):157-61. doi: 10.1038/385157a0.


Information processing in the cerebral cortex invariably involves the activation of millions of neurons that are widely distributed over its various areas. These distributed activity patterns need to be integrated into coherent representational states. A candidate mechanism for the integration and coordination of neuronal activity between different brain regions is synchronization on a fine temporal scale. In the visual cortex, synchronization occurs selectively between the responses of neurons that represent related features and that need to be integrated for the generation of coherent percepts; neurons in other areas of the cerebral cortex also synchronize their discharges. However, little is known about the patterns and the behavioural correlates of synchrony among widely separated cortical regions. Here we report that synchronization occurs between areas of the visual and parietal cortex, and between areas of the parietal and motor cortex, in the awake cat. When cats responded to a sudden change of a visual pattern, neuronal activity in cortical areas exhibited synchrony without time lags; this synchrony was particularly strong between areas subserving related functions. During reward and inter-trial episodes, zero-time-lag synchrony was lost and replaced by interactions exhibiting large and unsystematic time lags.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Attention / physiology
  • Cats
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Cortical Synchronization*
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*