Mixed latent variable model of attention in V1


Neurons show a high degree of variability of spike trains, even in responses to identical stimuli. This variability is often correlated between neurons of one population, however, the sources of the correlation remain unknown. According to one hypothesis, inter-trial fluctuation of an attentional signal can induce noise correlation [Cohen Newsome 2008, Ecker et al. 2016]. To test this hypothesis in the primary visual cortex, we designed a novel cued change detection task in which attentional fluctuations are modulated across trials. We trained two monkeys to maintain fixation and to make a saccade toward coherent gratings among a series of two Gabor patches with randomly changing orientations presented simultaneously in the left and right visual field. The monkeys learned to attend either to the stimulus on one side or to both stimuli (Fig. 1 A, B).