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Selective modulation of cortical state during spatial attention

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Alwin GieselmannORCiD, Professor Alexander Thiele



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Neocortical activity is permeated with endogenously generated fluctuations, but how these dynamics affect goal-directed behavior remains a mystery. We found that ensemble neural activity in primate visual cortex spontaneously fluctuated between phases of vigorous (On) and faint (Off) spiking synchronously across cortical layers. These On-Off dynamics, reflecting global changes in cortical state, were also modulated at a local scale during selective attention. Moreover, the momentary phase of local ensemble activity predicted behavioral performance. Our results show that cortical state is controlled locally within a cortical map according to cognitive demands and reveal the impact of these local changes in cortical state on goal-directed behavior.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Engel TA, Steinmetz NA, Gieselmann MA, Thiele A, Moore T, Boahen K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science

Year: 2016

Volume: 354

Issue: 6316

Pages: 1140-1144

Print publication date: 02/12/2016

Acceptance date: 31/10/2016

Date deposited: 02/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0036-8075

ISSN (electronic): 1095-9203

Publisher: American Association for the Advancement of Science


DOI: 10.1126/science.aag1420


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Funder referenceFunder name
Stanford NeuroVentures grant
093104Wellcome Trust
MRK0137851Medical Research Council (MRC)