Task-dependent modulation of SI physiological responses to targets and distractors

Elsie Spingath, Hyun Sug Kang, David T. Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Selective attention experimental designs have shown that neural responses to stimuli in primary somatosensory cortex are stronger when the sensory stimuli are task relevant. Other studies have used animals under no task demands for data collection. The relationship between neural responses in the brain during behavior, and while an animal has no task demands, remains underexplored. We trained two animals to perform somatosensory detection for several weeks, followed by somatosensory discrimination for several weeks. Data in response to physically identical stimuli were collected from cortical implants while the animal was under no task demands before each behavioral session and also during that behavioral session. The Fourier spectra of the field potentials during detection or discrimination compared with the no task condition demonstrated suppression of the somatosensory μ-rhythm that is associated with readiness and anticipation of cognitive use of somatosensory and motor inputs. Responses to the task target were stronger during detection and discrimination than in the no task condition. The amplitude normalized time course of the target evoked response was similar in both cases. Evoked responses to the task distractor were not significantly stronger during behavior than in recordings under no task demands. The normalized time course of the distractor responses showed a suppression that peaks 30-35 ms after the onset of the response. The selectivity of this within trial suppression is the same as the selectivity of enduring suppression evident in studies of sensory cortical plasticity, which suggests the same neural process may be responsible for both.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1036-1044
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2013


  • Attention and arousal
  • Awake monkey
  • Learning-induced plasticity
  • Somatosensory cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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