Is Gamma-Band Activity in the Local Field Potential of V1 Cortex a “Clock” or Filtered Noise?
Gamma-band (25–90 Hz) peaks in local field potential (LFP) power spectra are present throughout the cerebral cortex and have been related to perception, attention, memory, and disorders (e.g., schizophrenia and autism). It has been theorized that gamma oscillations provide a “clock” for precise temporal encoding and “binding” of signals about stimulus features across brain regions. For gamma to function as a clock, it must be autocoherent: phase and frequency conserved over a period of time. We computed phase and frequency trajectories of gamma-band bursts, using time-frequency analysis of LFPs recorded in macaque primary visual cortex (V1) during visual stimulation. The data were compared with simulations of random networks and clock signals in noise. Gamma-band bursts in LFP data were statistically indistinguishable from those found in filtered broadband noise. Therefore, V1 LFP data did not contain clock-like gamma-band signals. We consider possible functions for stochastic gamma-band activity, such as a synchronizing pulse signal.