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Optical stimulation of network activity in visual cortex changes perceptual performance Dragoi, Valentin


Sensory detection is a basic perceptual experience that critically relies on the accurate stimulus encoding in primary sensory cortex. However, the responses of neurons in early cortical areas are known to be only poorly correlated with perceptual reports, and hence how neurons in these areas contribute to perceptual decisions remains unclear. Here we show that optogenetic stimulation of distinct populations of excitatory neurons in V1 of macaque monkey can enhance the detection of an oriented stimulus when the stimulated population is tuned to the stimulus orientation. Activating populations of neurons untuned to the stimulus, however, elicited a large increase in neuronal ring rates, but did not impact behavioral performance. By examining how optical stimulation influences the information encoded in population activity, we found that the light-induced improvement in behavioral performance was accompanied by a reduction in noise correlations and an increase in the population signal-to-noise ratio. Our results demonstrate that causal manipulation of the responses of an informative population of excitatory neurons in V1 can bias the animals behavioral choice.

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