Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Synchronized neuronal firing in cortex has been implicated in feature binding, attentional selection, and other cognitive processes. This study addressed the question whether different cortical fields are distinct by rules according to which neurons engage in synchronous firing. To this end, we simultaneously recorded the multiunit firing at several sites within the primary and the caudomedial auditory cortical field of anesthetized macaque monkeys, determined their responses to pure tones, and calculated the cross-correlation function of the spontaneous firing of pairs of units. In the primary field, the likelihood of synchronous firing of pairs of units increased with the similarity of their frequency tuning and their response latencies. In the caudomedial field, by contrast, the likelihood of synchronization was highest when pairs of units had an octave and other harmonic relationships and when units had different response latencies. The differences in synchrony of the two fields were not paralleled by differences in distributions of best frequency, bandwidth of tuning curves, and response latency. Our findings suggest that neuronal synchrony in different cortical fields may underlie the establishment of specific relationships between the sound features that are represented by the firing of the neurons and which follow the Gestalt laws of similarity in the primary field and good continuation in the caudomedial field.