Increasing evidence suggests that sensory stimulation not only changes the level of cortical activity with respect to baseline but also its structure. Despite having been reported in a multitude of conditions and preparations (for instance, as a quenching of intertrial variability, Churchland et al., 2010), such changes remain relatively poorly characterized. Here, we used optical imaging of voltage-sensitive dyes to explore, in V4 of an awake macaque, the spatiotemporal characteristics of both visually evoked and spontaneously ongoing neuronal activity and their difference. With respect to the spontaneous case, we detected a reduction in large-scale activity (
) in the alpha range (5 to 12.5 Hz) during sensory inflow accompanied by a decrease in pairwise correlations. Moreover, the spatial patterns of correlation obtained during the different visual stimuli were on the average more similar one to another than they were to that obtained in the absence of stimulation. Finally, these observed changes in activity dynamics approached saturation already at very low stimulus contrasts, unlike the progressive, near-linear increase of the mean raw evoked responses over a wide range of contrast values, which could indicate a specific switching in the presence of a sensory inflow.