Attentional fluctuations induce shared variability in macaque primary visual cortex


Variability in neuronal responses to identical stimuli is frequently correlated across a population. Attention is thought to reduce these correlations by suppressing noisy inputs shared by the population. However, even with precise control of the visual stimulus, the subject’s attentional state varies across trials. While these state fluctuations are bound to induce some degree of correlated variability, it is currently unknown how strong their effect is, as previous studies generally do not dissociate changes in attentional strength from changes in attentional state variability. We designed a novel paradigm that does so and find both a pronounced effect of attentional fluctuations on correlated variability at long timescales and attention-dependent reductions in correlations at short timescales. These effects predominate in layers 2/3, as expected from a feedback signal such as attention. Thus, significant portions of correlated …

Matthias Bethge
Matthias Bethge
Professor for Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning & Director of the Tübingen AI Center

Matthias Bethge is Professor for Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning at the University of Tübingen and director of the Tübingen AI Center, a joint center between Tübingen University and MPI for Intelligent Systems that is part of the German AI strategy.