The hypothesis that cortical networks employ the coordinated activity of groups of neurons, termed assemblies, to process information is debated. Results from multiple single-unit recordings are not conclusive because of the dramatic undersampling of the system. However, the local field potential (LFP) is a mesoscopic signal reflecting synchronized network activity. This raises the question whether the LFP can be employed to overcome the problem of undersampling. In a recent study in the motor cortex of the awake behaving monkey based on the locking of coincidences to the LFP we determined a lower bound for the fraction of spike coincidences originating from assembly activation. This quantity together with the locking of single spikes leads to a lower bound for the fraction of spikes originating from any assembly activity. Here we derive a statistical method to estimate the fraction of spike synchrony caused by assemblies—not its lower bound—from the spike data alone. A joint spike and LFP surrogate data model demonstrates consistency of results and the sensitivity of the method. Combining spike and LFP signals, we obtain an estimate of the fraction of spikes resulting from assemblies in the experimental data.
LFP; Synchrony; Oscillations; Network dynamics; Motor cortex
Local field potential (LFP) oscillations are often accompanied by synchronization of activity within a widespread cerebral area. Thus, the LFP and neuronal coherence appear to be the result of a common mechanism that underlies neuronal assembly formation. We used the olfactory bulb as a model to investigate: (1) the extent to which unitary dynamics and LFP oscillations can be correlated and (2) the precision with which a model of the hypothesized underlying mechanisms can accurately explain the experimental data. For this purpose, we analyzed simultaneous recordings of mitral cell (MC) activity and LFPs in anesthetized and freely breathing rats in response to odorant stimulation. Spike trains were found to be phase-locked to the gamma oscillation at specific firing rates and to form odor-specific temporal patterns. The use of a conductance-based MC model driven by an approximately balanced excitatory-inhibitory input conductance and a relatively small inhibitory conductance that oscillated at the gamma frequency allowed us to provide one explanation of the experimental data via a mode-locking mechanism. This work sheds light on the way network and intrinsic MC properties participate in the locking of MCs to the gamma oscillation in a realistic physiological context and may result in a particular time-locked assembly. Finally, we discuss how a self-synchronization process with such entrainment properties can explain, under experimental conditions: (1) why the gamma bursts emerge transiently with a maximal amplitude position relative to the stimulus time course; (2) why the oscillations are prominent at a specific gamma frequency; and (3) why the oscillation amplitude depends on specific stimulus properties. We also discuss information processing and functional consequences derived from this mechanism.
Olfactory function relies on a chain of neural relays that extends from the periphery to the central nervous system and implies neural activity with various timescales. A central question in neuroscience is how information is encoded by the neural activity. In the mammalian olfactory bulb, local neural activity oscillations in the 40–80 Hz range (gamma) may influence the timing of individual neuron activities such that olfactory information may be encoded in this way. In this study, we first characterize in vivo the detailed activity of individual neurons relative to the oscillation and find that, depending on their state, neurons can exhibit periodic activity patterns. We also find, at least qualitatively, a relation between this activity and a particular odor. This is reminiscent of general physical phenomena—the entrainment by an oscillation—and to verify this hypothesis, in a second phase, we build a biologically realistic model mimicking these in vivo conditions. Our model confirms quantitatively this hypothesis and reveals that entrainment is maximal in the gamma range. Taken together, our results suggest that the neuronal activity may be specifically formatted in time during the gamma oscillation in such a way that it could, at this stage, encode the odor.
In the hippocampus and the neocortex, the coupling between local field potential (LFP) oscillations and the spiking of single neurons can be highly precise, across neuronal populations and cell types. Spike phase (i.e., the spike time with respect to a reference oscillation) is known to carry reliable information, both with phase-locking behavior and with more complex phase relationships, such as phase precession. How this precision is achieved by neuronal populations, whose membrane properties and total input may be quite heterogeneous, is nevertheless unknown. In this note, we investigate a simple mechanism for learning precise LFP-to-spike coupling in feed-forward networks – the reliable, periodic modulation of presynaptic firing rates during oscillations, coupled with spike-timing dependent plasticity. When oscillations are within the biological range (2–150 Hz), firing rates of the inputs change on a timescale highly relevant to spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP). Through analytic and computational methods, we find points of stable phase-locking for a neuron with plastic input synapses. These points correspond to precise phase-locking behavior in the feed-forward network. The location of these points depends on the oscillation frequency of the inputs, the STDP time constants, and the balance of potentiation and de-potentiation in the STDP rule. For a given input oscillation, the balance of potentiation and de-potentiation in the STDP rule is the critical parameter that determines the phase at which an output neuron will learn to spike. These findings are robust to changes in intrinsic post-synaptic properties. Finally, we discuss implications of this mechanism for stable learning of spike-timing in the hippocampus.
spike-timing dependent plasticity; oscillations; phase-locking; stable learning; stability of neuronal plasticity; place fields
During natural vision, primates perform frequent saccadic eye movements, allowing only a narrow time window for processing the visual information at each location. Individual neurons may contribute only with a few spikes to the visual processing during each fixation, suggesting precise spike timing as a relevant mechanism for information processing. We recently found in V1 of monkeys freely viewing natural images, that fixation-related spike synchronization occurs at the early phase of the rate response after fixation-onset, suggesting a specific role of the first response spikes in V1. Here, we show that there are strong local field potential (LFP) modulations locked to the onset of saccades, which continue into the successive fixation periods. Visually induced spikes, in particular the first spikes after the onset of a fixation, are locked to a specific epoch of the LFP modulation. We suggest that the modulation of neural excitability, which is reflected by the saccade-related LFP changes, serves as a corollary signal enabling precise timing of spikes in V1 and thereby providing a mechanism for spike synchronization.
free viewing; local field potential; phase locking; primary visual cortex; spike synchrony
Responses of neurons in monkey visual cortex are modulated when attention is directed into the receptive field of the neuron: the gain or sensitivity of the response is increased or the synchronization of the spikes to the local field potential (LFP) is increased. We investigated, using model simulations, whether the synchrony of inhibitory networks could link these observations. We found that, indeed, an increase in inhibitory synchrony could enhance the coherence of the model neurons with the simulated LFP, and could have different effects on the firing rate. When the firing rate vs. current (f–I) response curves saturated at high I, attention yielded a shift in sensitivity; alternatively, when the f–I curves were non-saturating, the most significant effect was on the gain of the response. This suggests that attention may act through changes in the synchrony of inhibitory networks.
Synchronization; Gamma oscillations; Selective attention
A fundamental question in neuroscience concerns the relation between the spiking of individual neurons and the aggregate electrical activity of neuronal ensembles as seen in local-field potentials (LFPs). Because LFPs reflect both spiking activity and subthreshold events, this question is not simply one of data aggregation. Recording from 20 neurosurgical patients, we directly examined the relation between LFPs and neuronal spiking. Examining 2,030 neurons in widespread brain regions, we found that firing rates were positively correlated with broadband (2 – 150 Hz) shifts in the LFP power spectrum. In contrast, narrowband oscillations correlated both positively and negatively with firing rates at different recording sites. Broadband power shifts were a more-reliable predictor of neuronal spiking than narrowband power shifts. These findings suggest that broadband LFP power provides valuable information concerning neuronal activity beyond that contained in narrowband oscillations.
Local field potentials; Broadband; Oscillations; Single-units; Humans; Epilepsy
Characterizing the functional connectivity between neurons is key for understanding brain function. We recorded spikes and local field potentials (LFP) from multi-electrode arrays implanted in monkey visual cortex to test the hypotheses that spikes generated outward traveling LFP waves and the strength of functional connectivity depended on stimulus contrast, as described recently. These hypotheses were proposed based on the observation that the latency of the peak negativity of the spike-triggered LFP average (STA) increased with distance between the spike and LFP electrodes, and the magnitude of the STA negativity and the distance over which it was observed decreased with increasing stimulus contrast. Detailed analysis of the shape of the STA, however, revealed contributions from two distinct sources – a transient negativity in the LFP locked to the spike (∼0 ms) that attenuated rapidly with distance, and a low frequency rhythm with peak negativity ∼25 ms after the spike that attenuated slowly with distance. The overall negative peak of the LFP, which combined both these components, shifted from ∼0 to ∼25 ms going from electrodes near the spike to electrodes far from the spike, giving an impression of a traveling wave, although the shift was fully explained by changing contributions from the two fixed components. The low frequency rhythm was attenuated during stimulus presentations, decreasing the overall magnitude of the STA. These results highlight the importance of accounting for the network activity while using STAs to determine functional connectivity.
An important tool to study rhythmic neuronal synchronization is provided by relating spiking activity to the Local Field Potential (LFP). Two types of interdependent spike-LFP measures exist. The first approach is to directly quantify the consistency of single spike-LFP phases across spikes, referred to here as point-field phase synchronization measures. We show that conventional point-field phase synchronization measures are sensitive not only to the consistency of spike-LFP phases, but are also affected by statistical dependencies between spike-LFP phases, caused by e.g. non-Poissonian history-effects within spike trains such as bursting and refractoriness. To solve this problem, we develop a new pairwise measure that is not biased by the number of spikes and not affected by statistical dependencies between spike-LFP phases. The second approach is to quantify, similar to EEG-EEG coherence, the consistency of the relative phase between spike train and LFP signals across trials instead of across spikes, referred to here as spike train to field phase synchronization measures. We demonstrate an analytical relationship between point-field and spike train to field phase synchronization measures. Based on this relationship, we prove that the spike train to field pairwise phase consistency (PPC), a quantity closely related to the squared spike-field coherence, is a monotonically increasing function of the number of spikes per trial. This derived relationship is exact and analytic, and takes a linear form for weak phase-coupling. To solve this problem, we introduce a corrected version of the spike train to field PPC that is independent of the number of spikes per trial. Finally, we address the problem that dependencies between spike-LFP phase and the number of spikes per trial can cause spike-LFP phase synchronization measures to be biased by the number of trials. We show how to modify the developed point-field and spike train to field phase synchronization measures in order to make them unbiased by the number of trials.
Spike-triggered average; Spike-field locking; Spike-LFP; Phase locking; Spike-field coherence; Phase-synchronization
Extracellular physiological recordings are typically separated into two frequency bands: local field potentials (LFPs, a circuit property) and spiking multi-unit activity (MUA). There has been increased interest in LFPs due to their correlation with fMRI measurements and the possibility of studying local processing and neuronal synchrony. To further understand the biophysical origin of LFPs, we asked whether it is possible to estimate their time course based on the spiking activity from the same or nearby electrodes. We used Signal Estimation Theory to show that a linear filter operation on the activity of one/few neurons can explain a significant fraction of the LFP time course in the macaque primary visual cortex. The linear filter used to estimate the LFPs had a stereotypical shape characterized by a sharp downstroke at negative time lags and a slower positive upstroke for positve time lags. The filter was similar across neocortical regions and behavioral conditions including spontaneous activity and visual stimulation. The estimations had a spatial resolution of ~1 mm and a temporal resolution of ~200 ms. By considering a causal filter, we observed a temporal asymmetry such that the positive time lags in the filter contributed more to the LFP estimation than negative time lags. Additionally, we showed that spikes occurring within ~10 ms of spikes from nearby neurons yielded better estimation accuracies than nonsynchronous spikes. In sum, our results suggest that at least some circuit-level local properties of the field potentials can be predicted from the activity of one or a few neurons.
local field potentials; neuronal circuits; signal estimation theory; spike trains; computational neuroscience; biophysical models
Single neurons in the cerebral cortex are immersed in a fluctuating electric field, the local field potential (LFP), which mainly originates from synchronous synaptic input into the local neural neighborhood. As shown by recent studies in visual and auditory cortices, the angular phase of the LFP at the time of spike generation adds significant extra information about the external world, beyond the one contained in the firing rate alone. However, no biologically plausible mechanism has yet been suggested that allows downstream neurons to infer the phase of the LFP at the soma of their pre-synaptic afferents. Therefore, so far there is no evidence that the nervous system can process phase information. Here we study a model of a bursting pyramidal neuron, driven by a time-dependent stimulus. We show that the number of spikes per burst varies systematically with the phase of the fluctuating input at the time of burst onset. The mapping between input phase and number of spikes per burst is a robust response feature for a broad range of stimulus statistics. Our results suggest that cortical bursting neurons could play a crucial role in translating LFP phase information into an easily decodable spike count code.
Recordings from area V4 of monkeys have revealed that when the focus of attention is on a visual stimulus within the receptive field of a cortical neuron, two distinct changes can occur: The firing rate of the neuron can change and there can be an increase in the coherence between spikes and the local field potential (LFP) in the gamma-frequency range (30–50 Hz). The hypothesis explored here is that these observed effects of attention could be a consequence of changes in the synchrony of local interneuron networks. We performed computer simulations of a Hodgkin-Huxley type neuron driven by a constant depolarizing current, I, representing visual stimulation and a modulatory inhibitory input representing the effects of attention via local interneuron networks. We observed that the neuron’s firing rate and the coherence of its output spike train with the synaptic inputs was modulated by the degree of synchrony of the inhibitory inputs. When inhibitory synchrony increased, the coherence of spiking model neurons with the synaptic input increased, but the firing rate either increased or remained the same. The mean number of synchronous inhibitory inputs was a key determinant of the shape of the firing rate versus current (f–I) curves. For a large number of inhibitory inputs (~50), the f–I curve saturated for large I and an increase in input synchrony resulted in a shift of sensitivity—the model neuron responded to weaker inputs I. For a small number (~10), the f–I curves were non-saturating and an increase in input synchrony led to an increase in the gain of the response—the firing rate in response to the same input was multiplied by an approximately constant factor. The firing rate modulation with inhibitory synchrony was highest when the input network oscillated in the gamma frequency range. Thus, the observed changes in firing rate and coherence of neurons in the visual cortex could be controlled by top-down inputs that regulated the coherence in the activity of a local inhibitory network discharging at gamma frequencies.
Selective attention; Synchrony; Noise; Gamma oscillation; Gain modulation; Computer model
Rhythmic activity of neuronal ensembles has been proposed to play an important role in cognitive functions such as attention, perception, and memory. Here we investigate whether rhythmic activity in V1 of the macaque monkey (macaca mulatta) is affected by top-down visual attention. We measured the local field potential (LFP) and V1 spiking activity while monkeys performed an attention-demanding detection task. We show that gamma oscillations were strongly modulated by the stimulus and by attention. Stimuli that engaged inhibitory mechanisms induced the largest gamma LFP oscillations and the largest spike field coherence. Directing attention toward a visual stimulus at the receptive field of the recorded neurons decreased LFP gamma power and gamma spike field coherence. This decrease could reflect an attention-mediated reduction of surround inhibition. Changes in synchrony in V1 would thus be a byproduct of reduced inhibitory drive, rather than a mechanism that directly aids perceptual processing.
► Gamma synchronization in V1 depends on activation of normalization mechanisms ► Attention reduces strength of LFP gamma synchronization in V1 ► Attention reduces spike field coherence in V1 ► Increased gamma spike field coherence in is not a universal mechanism of attention
In the primate visual cortex, the phase of spikes relative to oscillations in the local field potential (LFP) in the gamma frequency range (30–80 Hz) can be shifted by stimulus features such as orientation and thus the phase may carry information about stimulus identity. According to the principle of communication through coherence (CTC), the relative LFP phase between the LFPs in the sending and receiving circuits affects the effectiveness of the transmission. CTC predicts that phase shifting can be used for stimulus selection. We review and investigate phase shifting in models of periodically driven single neurons and compare it with phase shifting in models of cortical networks. In a single neuron, as the driving current is increased, the spike phase varies systematically while the firing rate remains constant. In a network model of reciprocally connected excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) cells phase shifting occurs in response to both injection of constant depolarizing currents and to brief pulses to I cells. These simple models provide an account for phase-shifting observed experimentally and suggest a mechanism for implementing CTC. We discuss how this hypothesis can be tested experimentally using optogenetic techniques.
attention; gamma oscillations; synchrony; phase shifting; phase locking
Cortical responses can vary greatly between repeated presentations of an identical stimulus. Here we report that both trial-to-trial variability and faithfulness of auditory cortical stimulus representations depend critically on brain state. A frozen amplitude-modulated white noise stimulus was repeatedly presented while recording neuronal populations and local field potentials (LFPs) in auditory cortex of urethane-anesthetized rats. An information-theoretic measure was used to predict neuronal spiking activity from either the stimulus envelope or simultaneously recorded LFP. Evoked LFPs and spiking more faithfully followed high-frequency temporal modulations when the cortex was in a “desynchronized” state. In the “synchronized” state, neural activity was poorly predictable from the stimulus envelope, but the spiking of individual neurons could still be predicted from the ongoing LFP. Our results suggest that although auditory cortical activity remains coordinated as a population in the synchronized state, the ability of continuous auditory stimuli to control this activity is greatly diminished.
information theory; auditory system; brain state; desynchronized; synchronized
Previous studies showed that dopamine depletion leads to both changes in firing rate and in neuronal synchrony in the basal ganglia. Since dopamine D1 and D2 receptors are preferentially expressed in striatonigral and striatopallidal medium spiny neurons, respectively, we investigated the relative contribution of lack of D1 and/or D2-type receptor activation to the changes in striatal firing rate and synchrony observed after dopamine depletion. Similar to what was observed after dopamine depletion, co-administration of D1 and D2 antagonists to mice chronically implanted with multielectrode arrays in the striatum caused significant changes in firing rate, power of the local field potential (LFP) oscillations, and synchrony measured by the entrainment of neurons to striatal local field potentials. However, although blockade of either D1 or D2 type receptors produced similarly severe akinesia, the effects on neural activity differed. Blockade of D2 receptors affected the firing rate of medium spiny neurons and the power of the LFP oscillations substantially, but it did not affect synchrony to the same extent. In contrast, D1 blockade affected synchrony dramatically, but had less substantial effects on firing rate and LFP power. Furthermore, there was no consistent relation between neurons changing firing rate and changing LFP entrainment after dopamine blockade. Our results suggest that the changes in rate and entrainment to the LFP observed in medium spiny neurons after dopamine depletion are somewhat dissociable, and that lack of D1- or D2-type receptor activation can exert independent yet interactive pathological effects during the progression of Parkinson's disease.
oscillations; Parkinson's disease; local field potentials; entrainment; movement; caudate; putamen
Neurons communicate primarily with spikes, but most theories of neural computation are based on firing rates. Yet, many experimental observations suggest that the temporal coordination of spikes plays a role in sensory processing. Among potential spike-based codes, synchrony appears as a good candidate because neural firing and plasticity are sensitive to fine input correlations. However, it is unclear what role synchrony may play in neural computation, and what functional advantage it may provide. With a theoretical approach, I show that the computational interest of neural synchrony appears when neurons have heterogeneous properties. In this context, the relationship between stimuli and neural synchrony is captured by the concept of synchrony receptive field, the set of stimuli which induce synchronous responses in a group of neurons. In a heterogeneous neural population, it appears that synchrony patterns represent structure or sensory invariants in stimuli, which can then be detected by postsynaptic neurons. The required neural circuitry can spontaneously emerge with spike-timing-dependent plasticity. Using examples in different sensory modalities, I show that this allows simple neural circuits to extract relevant information from realistic sensory stimuli, for example to identify a fluctuating odor in the presence of distractors. This theory of synchrony-based computation shows that relative spike timing may indeed have computational relevance, and suggests new types of neural network models for sensory processing with appealing computational properties.
How does the brain compute? Traditional theories of neural computation describe the operating function of neurons in terms of average firing rates, with the timing of spikes bearing little information. However, numerous studies have shown that spike timing can convey information and that neurons are highly sensitive to synchrony in their inputs. Here I propose a simple spike-based computational framework, based on the idea that stimulus-induced synchrony can be used to extract sensory invariants (for example, the location of a sound source), which is a difficult task for classical neural networks. It relies on the simple remark that a series of repeated coincidences is in itself an invariant. Many aspects of perception rely on extracting invariant features, such as the spatial location of a time-varying sound, the identity of an odor with fluctuating intensity, the pitch of a musical note. I demonstrate that simple synchrony-based neuron models can extract these useful features, by using spiking models in several sensory modalities.
Stimulus-evoked oscillatory synchronization of neurons has been observed in a wide range of species. Here, we combined genetic strategies with paired intracellular and local field potential (LFP) recordings from the intact brain of Drosophila to study mechanisms of odor-evoked neural oscillations. We found common food odors at natural concentrations elicited oscillations in LFP recordings made from the mushroom body (MB), a site of sensory integration and analogous to the vertebrate pyriform cortex. The oscillations were reversibly abolished by application of the GABAa blocker picrotoxin. Intracellular recordings from local and projection neurons within the antennal lobe (AL, analogous to the olfactory bulb) revealed odor-elicited spikes and sub-threshold membrane potential oscillations that were tightly phase-locked to LFP oscillations recorded downstream in the MBs. These results suggested that, as in locusts, odors may elicit the oscillatory synchronization of AL neurons by means of GABAergic inhibition from local neurons (LNs). An analysis of the morphologies of genetically distinguished LNs revealed two populations of GABAergic neurons in the AL. One population of LNs innervated parts of glomeruli lacking terminals of receptor neurons, whereas the other branched more widely, innervating throughout the glomeruli, suggesting the two populations might participate in different neural circuits. To test the functional roles of these LNs, we used the temperature-sensitive dynamin mutant gene, shibire, to conditionally and reversibly block chemical transmission from each or both of these populations of LNs. We found only the more widely branching population of LNs is necessary for generating odor-elicited oscillations.
antennal lobe; local neuron; mushroom body; olfaction; coding; synchrony
Cue-triggered recall of learned temporal sequences is an important cognitive function that has been attributed to higher brain areas. Here, recordings in both anesthetized and awake rats demonstrate that after repeated stimulation with a moving spot that evoked sequential firing of an ensemble of primary visual cortex (V1) neurons, just a brief flash at the starting point of the motion path was sufficient to evoke a sequential firing pattern that reproduced the activation order evoked by the moving spot. The speed of recalled spike sequences may reflect the internal dynamics of the network rather than the motion speed. In awake animals, such recall was observed during a synchronized (“quiet wakeful”) brain state with large-amplitude, low-frequency local field potential (LFP), but not in a desynchronized (“active”) state with low-amplitude, high-frequency LFP. Such conditioning-enhanced, cue-evoked sequential spiking of a V1 ensemble may contribute to experience-based perceptual inference in a brain state-dependent manner.
Neurophysiologists have recently become interested in studying neuronal population activity through local field potential (LFP) recordings during experiments that also record the activity of single neurons. This experimental approach differs from early LFP studies because it uses high impendence electrodes that can also isolate single neuron activity. A possible complication for such studies is that the synaptic potentials and action potentials of the small subset of isolated neurons may contribute disproportionately to the LFP signal, biasing activity in the larger nearby neuronal population to appear synchronous and cotuned with these neurons. To address this problem, we used linear filtering techniques to remove features correlated with spike events from LFP recordings. This filtering procedure can be applied for well-isolated single units or multiunit activity. We illustrate the effects of this correction in simulation and on spike data recorded from primary auditory cortex. We find that local spiking activity can explain a significant portion of LFP power at most recording sites and demonstrate that removing the spike-correlated component can affect measurements of auditory tuning of the LFP.
Long-term potentiation (LTP) is commonly used to study synaptic plasticity but the associated changes in the spontaneous activity of individual neurons or the computational properties of neural networks in vivo remain largely unclear. The multisynaptic origin of spontaneous spikes makes it difficult to estimate the impact of a particular potentiated input. Accordingly, we adopted an approach that isolates pathway-specific postsynaptic activity from raw local field potentials (LFPs) in the rat hippocampus in order to study the effects of LTP on ongoing spike transfer between cell pairs in the CA3-CA1 pathway. CA1 Schaffer-specific LFPs elicited by spontaneous clustered firing of CA3 pyramidal cells involved a regular succession of elementary micro-field-EPSPs (gamma-frequency) that fired spikes in CA1 units. LTP increased the amplitude but not the frequency of these ongoing excitatory quanta. Also, the proportion of Schaffer-driven spikes in both CA1 pyramidal cells and interneurons increased in a cell-specific manner only in previously connected CA3-CA1 cell pairs, i.e., when the CA3 pyramidal cell had shown pre-LTP significant correlation with firing of a CA1 unit and potentiated spike-triggered average (STA) of Schaffer LFPs following LTP. Moreover, LTP produced subtle reorganization of presynaptic CA3 cell assemblies. These findings show effective enhancement of pathway-specific ongoing activity which leads to increased spike transfer in potentiated segments of a network. They indicate that plastic phenomena induced by external protocols may intensify spontaneous information flow across specific channels as proposed in transsynaptic propagation of plasticity and synfire chain hypotheses that may be the substrate for different types of memory involving multiple brain structures.
synaptic plasticity; local field potentials; long-term potentiation; independent component analysis; synfire chain; spontaneous activity; neuronal circuits
The frontal eye field (FEF) participates in selecting the location of behaviorally relevant stimuli for guiding attention and eye movements. We simultaneously recorded local field potentials (LFPs) and spiking activity in the FEF of monkeys performing memory-guided saccade and covert visual search tasks. We compared visual latencies and the time course of spatially selective responses in LFPs and spiking activity. Consistent with the view that LFPs represent synaptic input, visual responses appeared first in the LFPs followed by visual responses in the spiking activity. However, spatially selective activity identifying the location of the target in the visual search array appeared in the spikes about 30 ms before it appeared in the LFPs. Because LFPs reflect dendritic input and spikes measure neuronal output in a local brain region, this temporal relationship suggests that spatial selection necessary for attention and eye movements is computed locally in FEF from non-spatially selective inputs.
vision; attention; monkey; physiology; evoked potentials; action potentials
Neuronal oscillations in the gamma frequency range have been reported in many cortical areas, but the role they play in cortical processing remains unclear. We tested a recently proposed hypothesis that the intensity of sensory input is coded in the timing of action potentials relative to the phase of gamma oscillations, thus converting amplitude information to a temporal code. We recorded spikes and local field potential (LFP) from secondary somatosensory (SII) cortex in awake monkeys while presenting a vibratory stimulus at different amplitudes. We developed a novel technique based on matching pursuit to study the interaction between the highly transient gamma oscillations and spikes with high time-frequency resolution. We found that spikes were weakly coupled to LFP oscillations in the gamma frequency range (40−80 Hz), and strongly coupled to oscillations in higher gamma frequencies. However, the phase relationship of neither low-gamma nor high-gamma oscillations changed with stimulus intensity, even with a ten-fold increase. We conclude that, in SII, gamma oscillations are synchronized with spikes, but their phase does not vary with stimulus intensity. Furthermore, high-gamma oscillations (>60 Hz) appear to be closely linked to the occurrence of action potentials, suggesting that LFP high-gamma power could be a sensitive index of the population firing rate near the microelectrode.
Secondary somatosensory cortex; gamma; high-gamma; phase coding; local field potential; matching pursuit
The rapidly increasing use of the local field potential (LFP) has motivated research to better understand its relation to the gold standard of neural activity, single unit (SU) spiking. We addressed this in an in vivo, awake, restrained mouse auditory cortical electrophysiology preparation by asking whether the LFP could actually be used to predict stimulus-evoked SU spiking. Implementing a Bayesian algorithm to predict the likelihood of spiking on a trial by trial basis from different representations of the despiked LFP signal, we were able to predict, with high quality and fine temporal resolution (2 ms), the time course of a SU's excitatory or inhibitory firing rate response to natural species-specific vocalizations. Our best predictions were achieved by representing the LFP by its wide-band Hilbert phase signal, and approximating the statistical structure of this signal at different time points as independent. Our results show that each SU's action potential has a unique relationship with the LFP that can be reliably used to predict the occurrence of spikes. This “signature” interaction can reflect both pre- and post-spike neural activity that is intrinsic to the local circuit rather than just dictated by the stimulus. Finally, the time course of this “signature” may be most faithful when the full bandwidth of the LFP, rather than specific narrow-band components, is used for representation.
LFP; Spike prediction; Auditory cortex; Gamma band; Theta band; Beta band; Oscillation; Bayesian algorithm; A1; Evoked potentials; Electroencephalography; EEG; Hilbert transform; Single cortical cells; Phase; Despiking
Local Field Potentials (LFPs) integrate multiple neuronal events like synaptic inputs and intracellular potentials. LFP spatiotemporal features are particularly relevant in view of their applications both in research (e.g. for understanding brain rhythms, inter-areal neural communication and neronal coding) and in the clinics (e.g. for improving invasive Brain-Machine Interface devices). However the relation between LFPs and spikes is complex and not fully understood. As spikes represent the fundamental currency of neuronal communication this gap in knowledge strongly limits our comprehension of neuronal phenomena underlying LFPs. We investigated the LFP-spike relation during tactile stimulation in primary somatosensory (S-I) cortex in the rat. First we quantified how reliably LFPs and spikes code for a stimulus occurrence. Then we used the information obtained from our analyses to design a predictive model for spike occurrence based on LFP inputs. The model was endowed with a flexible meta-structure whose exact form, both in parameters and structure, was estimated by using a multi-objective optimization strategy. Our method provided a set of nonlinear simple equations that maximized the match between models and true neurons in terms of spike timings and Peri Stimulus Time Histograms. We found that both LFPs and spikes can code for stimulus occurrence with millisecond precision, showing, however, high variability. Spike patterns were predicted significantly above chance for 75% of the neurons analysed. Crucially, the level of prediction accuracy depended on the reliability in coding for the stimulus occurrence. The best predictions were obtained when both spikes and LFPs were highly responsive to the stimuli. Spike reliability is known to depend on neuron intrinsic properties (i.e. on channel noise) and on spontaneous local network fluctuations. Our results suggest that the latter, measured through the LFP response variability, play a dominant role.
The functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) signal is regularly used to assign neuronal activity to cognitive function. Recent analyses have shown that the local field potential (LFP) gamma power is a better predictor of the fMRI BOLD signal than spiking activity. However, LFP gamma power and spiking activity are usually correlated, clouding the analysis of the neural basis of the BOLD signal. We show that changes in LFP gamma power and spiking activity in the primary visual cortex (V1) of the awake primate can be dissociated by using grating and plaid pattern stimuli, which differentially engage surround suppression and cross-orientation inhibition/facilitation within and between cortical columns. Grating presentation yielded substantial V1 LFP gamma frequency oscillations and significant multi-unit activity. Plaid pattern presentation significantly reduced the LFP gamma power while increasing population multi-unit activity. The fMRI BOLD activity followed the LFP gamma power changes, not the multi-unit activity. Inference of neuronal activity from the fMRI BOLD signal thus requires detailed a priori knowledge of how different stimuli or tasks activate the cortical network.
BOLD; cross-orientation inhibition; fMRI; LFP; spiking; V1