Brain rhythms are more than just passive phenomena in visual cortex. For the first time, we show that the physiology underlying brain rhythms actively suppresses and releases cortical areas on a second-to-second basis during visual processing. Furthermore, their influence is specific at the scale of individual gyri. We quantified the interaction between broadband spectral change and brain rhythms on a second-to-second basis in electrocorticographic (ECoG) measurement of brain surface potentials in five human subjects during a visual search task. Comparison of (...) visual search epochs with a blank screen baseline revealed changes in the raw potential, the amplitude of rhythmic activity, and in the decoupled broadband spectral amplitude. We present new methods to characterize the intensity and preferred phase of coupling between broadband power and band-limited rhythms, and to estimate the magnitude of rhythm-to-broadband modulation on a trial-by-trial basis. These tools revealed numerous coupling motifs between the phase of low frequency (δ, θ, α, β, and γ band) rhythms and the amplitude of broadband spectral change. In the θ and β ranges, the coupling of phase to broadband change is dynamic during visual processing, decreasing in some occipital areas and increasing in others, in a gyrally specific pattern. Finally, we demonstrate that the rhythms interact with one another across frequency ranges, and across cortical sites. (shrink)
In the primate visual cortex, the phase of spikes relative to oscillations in the local field potential (LFP) in the gamma frequency range (30-80Hz) can be shifted by stimulus features such as orientation and thus the phase may carry information about stimulus identity. According to the principle of communication through coherence (CTC), the relative LFP phase between the LFPs in the sending and receiving circuits affects the effectiveness of the transmission. CTC predicts that phase shifting can be used for stimulus (...) selection. We review and investigate phase shifting in models of periodically-driven single neurons and compare it with phase shifting in models of cortical networks. In a single neuron, as the driving current is increased, the spike phase varies systematically while the firing rate remains constant. In a network model of reciprocally connected excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) cells phase shifting occurs in response to both injection of constant depolarizing currents and to brief pulses to I cells. These simple models provide an account for phase-shifting observed experimentally and suggest a mechanism for implementing CTC. We discuss how this hypothesis can be tested experimentally using optogenetic techniques. (shrink)
Although working memory capacity and executive function contribute to human intelligence, we question whether there is an equivalence between them and fluid intelligence. We contend that any satisfactory neurobiological explanation of fluid intelligence needs to include abstraction as an important computational component of brain processing. (Published Online April 5 2006).
Learning procedural skills involves improvement in speed and accuracy. Walker proposes two stages of memory consolidation: enhancement, which requires sleep, and stabilization, which does not require sleep. Speed improvement for a motor learning task but not accuracy occurs after sleep-dependent enhancement. We discuss this finding in the context of computational models and underlying sleep mechanisms.
How do minds emerge from developing brains? According to the representational features of cortex are built from the dynamic interaction between neural growth mechanisms and environmentally derived neural activity. Contrary to popular selectionist models that emphasize regressive mechanisms, the neurobiological evidence suggests that this growth is a progressive increase in the representational properties of cortex. The interaction between the environment and neural growth results in a flexible type of learning: minimizes the need for prespecification in accordance with recent neurobiological evidence (...) that the developing cerebral cortex is largely free of domain-specific structure. Instead, the representational properties of cortex are built by the nature of the problem domain confronting it. This uniquely powerful and general learning strategy undermines the central assumption of classical learnability theory, that the learning properties of a system can be deduced from a fixed computational architecture. Neural constructivism suggests that the evolutionary emergence of neocortex in mammals is a progression toward more flexible representational structures, in contrast to the popular view of cortical evolution as an increase in innate, specialized circuits. Human cortical postnatal development is also more extensive and protracted than generally supposed, suggesting that cortex has evolved so as to maximize the capacity of environmental structure to shape its structure and function through constructive learning. (shrink)
Anydomainofscientificresearchhasitssustainingorthodoxy. Thatis, research on a problem, whether in astronomy, physics, or biology, is con- ducted against a backdrop of broadly shared assumptions. It is these as- sumptionsthatguideinquiryandprovidethecanonofwhatisreasonable-- of what "makes sense." And it is these shared assumptions that constitute a framework for the interpretation of research results. Research on the problem of how we see is likewise sustained by broadly shared assump- tions, where the current orthodoxy embraces the very general idea that the business of the visual system is to (...) create a detailed replica of the visual world, and that it accomplishes its business via hierarchical organization and by operatingessentiallyindependently of other sensorymodalitiesas well as independently of previous learning, goals, motor planning, and motor execution. (shrink)