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More Gamma More Predictions: Gamma-Synchronization as a Key Mechanism for Efficient Integration of Classical Receptive Field Inputs with Surround Predictions

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      During visual stimulation, neurons in visual cortex often exhibit rhythmic and synchronous firing in the gamma-frequency (30–90 Hz) band. Whether this phenomenon plays a functional role during visual processing is not fully clear and remains heavily debated. In this article, we explore the function of gamma-synchronization in the context of predictive and efficient coding theories. These theories hold that sensory neurons utilize the statistical regularities in the natural world in order to improve the efficiency of the neural code, and to optimize the inference of the stimulus causes of the sensory data. In visual cortex, this relies on the integration of classical receptive field (CRF) data with predictions from the surround. Here we outline two main hypotheses about gamma-synchronization in visual cortex. First, we hypothesize that the precision of gamma-synchronization reflects the extent to which CRF data can be accurately predicted by the surround. Second, we hypothesize that different cortical columns synchronize to the extent that they accurately predict each other’s CRF visual input. We argue that these two hypotheses can account for a large number of empirical observations made on the stimulus dependencies of gamma-synchronization. Furthermore, we show that they are consistent with the known laminar dependencies of gamma-synchronization and the spatial profile of intercolumnar gamma-synchronization, as well as the dependence of gamma-synchronization on experience and development. Based on our two main hypotheses, we outline two additional hypotheses. First, we hypothesize that the precision of gamma-synchronization shows, in general, a negative dependence on RF size. In support, we review evidence showing that gamma-synchronization decreases in strength along the visual hierarchy, and tends to be more prominent in species with small V1 RFs. Second, we hypothesize that gamma-synchronized network dynamics facilitate the emergence of spiking output that is particularly information-rich and sparse.

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      Emergence of simple-cell receptive field properties by learning a sparse code for natural images.

      The receptive fields of simple cells in mammalian primary visual cortex can be characterized as being spatially localized, oriented and bandpass (selective to structure at different spatial scales), comparable to the basis functions of wavelet transforms. One approach to understanding such response properties of visual neurons has been to consider their relationship to the statistical structure of natural images in terms of efficient coding. Along these lines, a number of studies have attempted to train unsupervised learning algorithms on natural images in the hope of developing receptive fields with similar properties, but none has succeeded in producing a full set that spans the image space and contains all three of the above properties. Here we investigate the proposal that a coding strategy that maximizes sparseness is sufficient to account for these properties. We show that a learning algorithm that attempts to find sparse linear codes for natural scenes will develop a complete family of localized, oriented, bandpass receptive fields, similar to those found in the primary visual cortex. The resulting sparse image code provides a more efficient representation for later stages of processing because it possesses a higher degree of statistical independence among its outputs.
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        A mechanism for cognitive dynamics: neuronal communication through neuronal coherence.

         Pascal Fries (2005)
        At any one moment, many neuronal groups in our brain are active. Microelectrode recordings have characterized the activation of single neurons and fMRI has unveiled brain-wide activation patterns. Now it is time to understand how the many active neuronal groups interact with each other and how their communication is flexibly modulated to bring about our cognitive dynamics. I hypothesize that neuronal communication is mechanistically subserved by neuronal coherence. Activated neuronal groups oscillate and thereby undergo rhythmic excitability fluctuations that produce temporal windows for communication. Only coherently oscillating neuronal groups can interact effectively, because their communication windows for input and for output are open at the same times. Thus, a flexible pattern of coherence defines a flexible communication structure, which subserves our cognitive flexibility.
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          The brainweb: phase synchronization and large-scale integration.

          The emergence of a unified cognitive moment relies on the coordination of scattered mosaics of functionally specialized brain regions. Here we review the mechanisms of large-scale integration that counterbalance the distributed anatomical and functional organization of brain activity to enable the emergence of coherent behaviour and cognition. Although the mechanisms involved in large-scale integration are still largely unknown, we argue that the most plausible candidate is the formation of dynamic links mediated by synchrony over multiple frequency bands.

            Author and article information

            1School of Medicine, Yale University New Haven, CT, USA
            2Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience Group, Swammerdam Institute, Center for Neuroscience, University of Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands
            3Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Autónoma de Chile Santiago, Chile
            Author notes

            Edited by: Jonathan B. Fritz, University of Maryland, USA

            Reviewed by: Dana Ballard, University of Texas at Austin, USA; Georgia Gregoriou, University of Crete, Greece; Charles Marshall Gray, Montana State University, USA

            *Correspondence: Martin Vinck martinvinck@
            Front Syst Neurosci
            Front Syst Neurosci
            Front. Syst. Neurosci.
            Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            25 April 2016
            : 10
            Copyright © 2016 Vinck and Bosman.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

            Figures: 9, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 193, Pages: 27, Words: 20333
            Hypothesis and Theory


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