Top-down beta oscillatory signaling conveys behavioral context in early visual cortex.
Richter, Craig G.
Bressler, Steven L.
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Richter, C.G., Coppola, R., & Bressler, S.L. (2018). Top-down beta oscillatory signaling conveys behavioral context in early visual cortex. Scientific Reports, 8: 6991. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-25267-1
Top-down modulation of sensory processing is a critical neural mechanism subserving numerous important cognitive roles, one of which may be to inform lower-order sensory systems of the current ‘task at hand’ by conveying behavioral context to these systems. Accumulating evidence indicates that top-down cortical influences are carried by directed interareal synchronization of oscillatory neuronal populations, with recent results pointing to beta-frequency oscillations as particularly important for top-down processing. However, it remains to be determined if top-down beta-frequency oscillations indeed convey behavioral context. We measured spectral Granger Causality (sGC) using local field potentials recorded from microelectrodes chronically implanted in visual areas V1/V2, V4, and TEO of two rhesus macaque monkeys, and applied multivariate pattern analysis to the spatial patterns of top-down sGC. We decoded behavioral context by discriminating patterns of top-down (V4/TEO-to-V1/V2) beta-peak sGC for two different task rules governing correct responses to identical visual stimuli. The results indicate that top-down directed influences are carried to visual cortex by beta oscillations, and differentiate task demands even before visual stimulus processing. They suggest that top-down beta-frequency oscillatory processes coordinate processing of sensory information by conveying global knowledge states to early levels of the sensory cortical hierarchy independently of bottom-up stimulus-driven processing.