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γ-Frequency fluctuations of the membrane potential and response selectivity in visual cortical neurons


: Dr M. Volgushev, 1Department of Neurophysiology, as above.


Fluctuations at frequencies of 25–70 Hz is an inherent property of cortical activity. These rapid, γ-range fluctuations are apparent in the local field potentials, in spiking of cells and cell groups, and in the membrane potential of neurons. To investigate stimulus dependence of the γ-frequency fluctuations of the membrane potential, we have recorded intracellularly responses of cells in cat visual cortex to presentation of moving gratings. We found γ-range fluctuations of the membrane potential in both simple and complex cells. The strength of the γ-frequency fluctuations correlated with the stimulus optimality. Furthermore, the amplitude of the γ-frequency fluctuations correlated with the phase of stimulus-imposed slow changes of the membrane potential. The combination of these features makes cortical neurons capable of encoding the slow changes in the visual world in a kind of amplitude modulation of the high frequency fluctuations. This assures reliable transformation of the membrane potential changes into spike responses without compromising the temporal resolution of visual information encoding in the low frequency range.