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In Frontiers in neural circuits

Persistent activity has been observed in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), in particular during the delay periods of visual attention tasks. Classical approaches based on the average activity over multiple trials have revealed that such an activity encodes the information about the attentional instruction provided in such tasks. However, single-trial approaches have shown that activity in this area is rather sparse than persistent and highly heterogeneous not only within the trials but also between the different trials. Thus, this observation raised the question of how persistent the actually persistent attention-related prefrontal activity is and how it contributes to spatial attention. In this paper, we review recent evidence of precisely deconstructing the persistence of the neural activity in the PFC in the context of attention orienting. The inclusion of machine-learning methods for decoding the information reveals that attention orienting is a highly dynamic process, possessing intrinsic oscillatory dynamics working at multiple timescales spanning from milliseconds to minutes. Dimensionality reduction methods further show that this persistent activity dynamically incorporates multiple sources of information. This novel framework reflects a high complexity in the neural representation of the attention-related information in the PFC, and how its computational organization predicts behavior.

Amengual Julian L, Ben Hamed Suliann


alpha oscillations, decoding, mixed-selectivity, neurophysiology, persistent activity, population activity, prefrontal cortex, spatial attention