Temporal gating of neural signals during performance of a visual discrimination task

Eyal Seidemann*, Ehud Zohary, William T. Newsome

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The flow of neural signals within the cerebral cortex must be subject to multiple controls as behaviour unfolds in time. In a visual discrimination task that includes a delay period, the transmission of sensory signals to circuitry that mediates memory, decision-making and motor-planning must be governed dosely by 'filtering' or 'gating' mechanisms so that extraneous events occurring before, during or after presentation of the critical visual stimulus have little or no effect on the subject's behavioural responses. Here we study one such mechanism physiologically by applying electrical microstimulation to columns of directionally selective neurons in the middle temporal visual area at varying times during single trials of a directiondiscrimination task. The behavioural effects of microstimulation varied strikingly according to the timing of delivery within the trial, indicating that signals produced by microstimulation may be subject to active 'gating'. Our results show several important features of this gating proces: first, signal flow is modulated upwards on onset of the visual stimulus and downwards, typically with a slower time course, after stimulus offset; second, gating efficacy can be modified by behavioural training; and third, gating is implemented primarily downstream of the middie temporal visual area.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)72-75
Number of pages4
Issue number6688
StatePublished - 2 Jul 1998


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