Layer-specificity in the effects of attention and working memory on activity in primary visual cortex

Timo Van Kerkoerle*, Matthew W. Self, Pieter R. Roelfsema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Neuronal activity in early visual cortex depends on attention shifts but the contribution to working memory has remained unclear. Here, we examine neuronal activity in the different layers of the primary visual cortex (V1) in an attention-demanding and a working memory task. A current-source density analysis reveales top-down inputs in the superficial layers and layer 5, and an increase in neuronal firing rates most pronounced in the superficial and deep layers and weaker in input layer 4. This increased activity is strongest in the attention task but it is also highly reliable during working memory delays. A visual mask erases the V1 memory activity, but it reappeares at a later point in time. These results provide new insights in the laminar circuits involved in the top-down modulation of activity in early visual cortex in the presence and absence of visual stimuli.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13804
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2017


We thank Julio Martinez-Trujillo for helpful comments on the manuscript. We thank Kor Brandsma and Anneke Ditewig for biotechnical assistance. The work was supported by NWO (VICI scheme, Brain and Cognition grant n. 433-09-208 and ALW grant 823-02-010) and the European Union Seventh Framework Program (Marie-Curie Action PITN-GA-2011-290011 'ABC', the Human Brain Project and ERC Grant Agreement n. 339490 'Cortic-al-gorithms') awarded to PRR.

FundersFunder number
European Union Seventh Framework Program
Human Brain Project
Marie-Curie ActionPITN-GA-2011-290011
Seventh Framework Programme339490, 290011
European Research Council
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek823-02-010, 433-09-208


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