Oscillatory Synchrony in the Monkey Temporal Lobe Correlates with Performance in a Visual Short-term Memory Task

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Abstract

Oscillatory synchrony has been proposed to dynamically coordinate distributed neural ensembles, but whether this mechanism is effectively used in neural processing remains controversial. We trained two monkeys to perform a delayed matching-to-sample task using new visual shapes at each trial. Measures of population-activity patterns (cortical field potentials) were obtained from a chronically implanted array of electrodes placed over area V4 and posterior infero-temporal cortex. In correct trials, oscillatory phase synchrony in the beta range (15–20 Hz) was observed between two focal sites in the inferior temporal cortex while holding the sample in short-term memory. Error trials were characterized by an absence of oscillatory synchrony during memory maintenance. Errors did not seem to be due to an impaired stimulus encoding, since various parameters of neural activity in sensory area V4 did not differ in correct and incorrect trials during sample presentation. Our findings suggest that the successful performance of a visual short-term memory task depends on the strength of oscillatory synchrony during the maintenance of the object in short-term memory. The strength of oscillatory synchrony thus seems to be a relevant parameter of the neural population dynamics that matches behavioral performance.

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