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Letters to Nature
Nature 338, 334 - 337 (23 March 1989); doi:10.1038/338334a0

Oscillatory responses in cat visual cortex exhibit inter-columnar synchronization which reflects global stimulus properties

Charles M. Gray, Peter König, Andreas K. Engel & Wolf Singer

Max-Planck-Institute for Brain Research, Deutschordenstrasse 46, D-6000 Frankfurt am Main 71, FRG

A FUNDAMENTAL step in visual pattern recognition is the establishment of relations between spatially separate features. Recently, we have shown that neurons in the cat visual cortex have oscillatory responses in the range 40–60 Hz (refs 1,2) which occur in synchrony for cells in a functional column and are tightly correlated with a local oscillatory field potential. This led us to hypothesize that the synchronization of oscillatory responses of spatially distributed, feature selective cells might be a way to establish relations between features in different parts of the visual field2,3. In support of this hypothesis, we demonstrate here that neurons in spatially separate columns can synchronize their oscillatory responses. The synchronization has, on average, no phase difference, depends on the spatial separation and the orientation preference of the cells and is influenced by global stimulus properties.

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