Top-down signals from frontal cortex are thought to be important in cognitive control of sensory processing. To explore this interaction, we compared activity in ferret frontal cortex and primary auditory cortex (A1) during auditory and visual tasks requiring discrimination between classes of reference and target stimuli. Frontal cortex responses were behaviorally gated, selectively encoded the timing and invariant behavioral meaning of target stimuli, could be rapid in onset, and sometimes persisted for hours following behavior. These results are consistent with earlier findings in A1 that attention triggered rapid, selective, persistent, task-related changes in spectrotemporal receptive fields. Simultaneously recorded local field potentials revealed behaviorally gated changes in inter-areal coherence that were selectively modulated between frontal cortex and focal regions of A1 that were responsive to target sounds. These results suggest that A1 and frontal cortex dynamically establish a functional connection during auditory behavior that shapes the flow of sensory information and maintains a persistent trace of recent task-relevant stimulus features.
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