Selective attention through phase relationship of excitatory and inhibitory input synchrony in a model cortical neuron

Jyoti Mishra, Jean Marc Fellous, Terrence J. Sejnowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Neurons in area V 2 and V 4 exhibit stimulus specific tuning to single stimuli, and respond at intermediate firing rates when presented with two differentially preferred stimuli ('pair response'). Selective attention to one of the two stimuli causes the neuron's firing rate to shift from the intermediate pair response towards the response to the attended stimulus as if it were presented alone. Attention to single stimuli reduces the response threshold of the neuron and increases spike synchronization at gamma frequencies. The intrinsic and network mechanisms underlying these phenomena were investigated in a multi-compartmental biophysical model of a reconstructed cat V 4 neuron. Differential stimulus preference was generated through a greater ratio of excitatory to inhibitory synapses projecting from one of two input V 2 populations. Feedforward inhibition and synaptic depression dynamics were critical to generating the intermediate pair response. Neuronal gain effects were simulated using gamma frequency range correlations in the feedforward excitatory and inhibitory inputs to the V 4 neuron. For single preferred stimulus presentations, correlations within the inhibitory population out of phase with correlations within the excitatory input significantly reduced the response threshold of the V 4 neuron. The pair response to simultaneously active preferred and non-preferred V 2 populations could also undergo an increase or decrease in gain via the same mechanism, where correlations in feedforward inhibition are out of phase with gamma band correlations within the excitatory input corresponding to the attended stimulus. The results of this model predict that top-down attention may bias the V 4 neuron's response using an inhibitory correlation phase shift mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1329-1346
Number of pages18
JournalNeural Networks
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2006


  • Gain modulation
  • Gamma band synchrony
  • Out of phase inhibition
  • Selective attention
  • V 4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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