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Attention Induced Gain Stabilization in Broad and Narrow-Spiking Cells in the Frontal Eye-Field of Macaque Monkeys

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alexander Thiele, Dr Christian Brandt, Dr Sascha Gotthardt



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Top-down attention increases coding abilities by altering firing rates and rate variability. In the frontal eye field (FEF), a key area enabling top-down attention, attention induced firing rate changes are profound, but its effect on different cell types is unknown. Moreover, FEF is the only cortical area investigated in which attention does not affect rate variability, as assessed by the Fano factor, suggesting that task engagement affects cortical state nonuniformly. We show that putative interneurons in FEF of Macaca mulatta show stronger attentional rate modulation than putative pyramidal cells. Partitioning rate variability reveals that both cell types reduce rate variability with attention, but more strongly so in narrow-spiking cells. The effects are captured by a model in which attention stabilizes neuronal excitability, thereby reducing the expansive nonlinearity that links firing rate and variance. These results show that the effect of attention on different cell classes and different coding properties are consistent across the cortical hierarchy, acting through increased and stabilized neuronal excitability.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Thiele A, Brandt C, Dasilva M, Gotthardt S, Chicharro D, Panzeri S, Distler C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Neuroscience

Year: 2016

Volume: 36

Issue: 29

Pages: 7601-7612

Print publication date: 20/07/2016

Acceptance date: 02/06/2016

Date deposited: 18/10/2016

ISSN (print): 0270-6474

ISSN (electronic): 1529-2401

Publisher: Society for Neuroscience


DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0872-16.2016


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