Rhythmic activity of neuronal ensembles has been proposed to play an important role in cognitive functions such as attention, perception, and memory. Here we investigate whether rhythmic activity in V1 of the macaque monkey (macaca mulatta) is affected by top-down visual attention. We measured the local field potential (LFP) and V1 spiking activity while monkeys performed an attention-demanding detection task. We show that gamma oscillations were strongly modulated by the stimulus and by attention. Stimuli that engaged inhibitory mechanisms induced the largest gamma LFP oscillations and the largest spike field coherence. Directing attention toward a visual stimulus at the receptive field of the recorded neurons decreased LFP gamma power and gamma spike field coherence. This decrease could reflect an attention-mediated reduction of surround inhibition. Changes in synchrony in V1 would thus be a byproduct of reduced inhibitory drive, rather than a mechanism that directly aids perceptual processing.
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