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Cholinergic control of cortical network interactions enables feedback-mediated attentional modulation

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alexander Thiele


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Attention increases our ability to detect behaviorally relevant stimuli. At the neuronal level this is supported by increased firing rates of neurons representing the attended object. In primary visual cortex an attention-mediated activity increase depends on the presence of the neuromodulator acetylcholine. Using a spiking network model of visual cortex we have investigated how acetylcholine interacts with biased feedback to enable attentional processing. Although acetylcholine affects cortical processing in a multitude of manners, we restricted our analysis to four of its main established actions. These were (i) a reduction in firing rate adaptation by reduction in M-currents (muscarinic), (ii) an increase in thalamocortical synaptic efficacy by nicotinic presynaptic receptors, (iii) a reduction in lateral interactions by muscarinic presynaptic receptors, and (iv) an increase in inhibitory drive by muscarinic receptors located on inhibitory interneurons. We found that acetylcholine contributes to feedback-mediated attentional modulation, mostly by reducing intracortical interactions and also to some extent by increasing the inhibitory drive. These findings help explain why acetylcholine is necessary for top-down-driven attentional modulation, and suggest a close interdependence of cholinergic and feedback drive in mediating cognitive function.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Deco G, Thiele A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Neuroscience

Year: 2011

Volume: 34

Issue: 1

Pages: 146-157

Print publication date: 21/06/2011

ISSN (print): 0953-816X

ISSN (electronic): 1460-9568

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2011.07749.x


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust
CSD2007-00012CONSOLIDER-INGENIO 2010 Programme
SAF2010-16085Spanish Research Project