Spatial patterns of spontaneous local field activity in the monkey visual cortex.
Spontaneous activity among visually responsive neurons is often considered to consist of random neural events, or perhaps to reflect an irrelevant by-product of brain homeostasis. However, recent studies have emphasized that such ongoing activity is strongly synchronized over large cortical distances, and can have a marked impact on the responsiveness of neurons to visual stimuli, suggesting that such activity may indeed be highly relevant to the brain's interpretation of its sensory input. In the current study, we examined the spatiotemporal nature of local field potential (LFP) fluctuations in the visual cortex of two macaque monkeys that were awake, but in a state of relaxation with minimal visual stimulation. Using an array of 16 electrodes spaced by several millimeters, we simultaneously monitored the LFP at many sites over a large region of the visual cortex. In agreement with the literature, we found that the coherence in the raw LFP signal fell off quickly with both frequency and distance. However, when we examined slower fluctuations in the LFP power, we found that power signals, including those derived from the high y-range frequencies, had high coherence that fell off only very slowly with cortical distance. Finally, we performed an additional experiment, with several electrodes placed on either side of a sulcus, to demonstrate that the decline in local field synchrony with cortical distance was so reliable that the interruption in the cortical sheet corresponding to the opening of the sulcus could be easily identified by monitoring just a few minutes of spontaneous LFP activity. These experiments reveal that a significant portion of spontaneous LFP fluctuations in the visual cortex is contributed by global mechanisms, imposing synchrony that is, first and foremost, a function of cortical separation between any two points.