Gamma synchrony predicts neuron-neuron correlations and correlations with motor behavior in extrastriate visual area MT.
Correlated variability of neuronal responses is an important factor in estimating sensory parameters from a population response. Large correlations among neurons reduce the effective size of a neural population and increase the variation of the estimates. They also allow the activity of one neuron to be informative about impending perceptual decisions or motor actions on single trials. In extrastriate visual area MT of the rhesus macaque, for example, some but not all neurons show nonzero "choice probabilities" for perceptual decisions or non-zero "MT-pursuit" correlations between the trial-by-trial variations in neural activity and smooth pursuit eye movements. To understand the functional implications of zero versus nonzero correlations between neural responses and impending perceptions or actions, we took advantage of prior observations that specific frequencies of local field potentials reflect the correlated activity of neurons. We found that the strength of the spike-field coherence of a neuron in the gamma-band frequency range is related to the size of its MT-pursuit correlations for eye direction, as well as to the size of the neuron-neuron correlations. Spike-field coherence predicts MT-pursuit correlations better for direction than for speed, perhaps because the topographic organization of direction preference in MT is more amenable to creating meaningful local field potentials. We suggest that the relationship between spiking and local-field potentials is stronger for neurons that have larger correlations with their neighbors; larger neuron-neuron correlations create stronger MT-pursuit correlations. Neurons that lack strong correlations with their neighbors also have weaker correlations with pursuit behavior, but still could drive pursuit strongly.
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