Patterns of ongoing activity and the functional architecture of the primary visual cortex

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Neuron, Volume 42, p.489–500 (2004)



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<p>Ongoing spontaneous activity in the cerebral cortex exhibits complex spatiotemporal patterns in the absence of sensory stimuli. To elucidate the nature of this ongoing activity, we present a theoretical treatment of two contrasting scenarios of cortical dynamics: (1) fluctuations about a single background state and (2) wandering among multiple "attractor" states, which encode a single or several stimulus features. Studying simplified network rate models of the primary visual cortex {(V1),} we show that the single state scenario is characterized by fast and high-dimensional Gaussian-like fluctuations, whereas in the multiple state scenario the fluctuations are slow, low dimensional, and highly {non-Gaussian.} Studying a more realistic model that incorporates correlations in the feed-forward input, spatially restricted cortical interactions, and an experimentally derived layout of pinwheels, we show that recent optical-imaging data of ongoing activity in V1 are consistent with the presence of either a single background state or multiple attractor states encoding many features.</p>