5 years ago

Spatial attention modulates visual gamma oscillations across the human ventral stream

Oscillatory synchronization in the gamma frequency range has been proposed as a neuronal mechanism to prioritize processing of relevant stimuli over competing ones. Recent studies in animals found that selective spatial attention enhanced gamma-band synchronization in high-order visual areas (V4) and increased the gamma peak frequency in V1. The existence of such mechanisms in the human visual system is yet to be fully demonstrated. In this study, we used MEG, in combination with an optimised stimulus design, to record visual gamma oscillations from human early visual cortex, while participants performed a visuospatial attention cueing task. First, we reconstructed virtual sensors in V1/V2, where gamma oscillations were strongly induced by visual stimulation alone. Second, following the results of a statistical comparison between conditions of attention, we reconstructed cortical activity also in inferior occipital-temporal regions (V4). The results indicated that gamma amplitude was modulated by spatial attention across the cortical hierarchy, both in the early visual cortex and in higher-order regions of the ventral visual pathway. In contrast, we found no evidence for an increase in the gamma peak frequency in V1/V2 with attention. The gamma response tended to peak earlier in V1/V2 than in V4 by approximately 70 ms, consistent with a feed-forward role of gamma-band activity in propagating sensory representations across the visual cortical hierarchy. Together, these findings suggest that differences in experimental design or methodology can account for the inconsistencies in previous animal and human studies. Furthermore, our results are in line with the hypothesis of enhanced gamma-band synchronization as an attentional mechanism in the human visual cortex.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1053811917309072

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