Dynamics of neuronal interactions in monkey cortex in relation to behavioural events

t is possible that brain cortical function is mediated by dynamic modulation of coherent firing in groups of neurons. Indeed, a correlation of firing between cortical neurons, seen following sensory stimuli or during motor behaviour, has been described. However, the time course of modifications of correlation in relation to behaviour was not evaluated systematically. Here we show that correlated firing between single neurons, recorded simultaneously in the frontal cortex of monkeys performing a behavioural task, evolves within a fraction of a second, and in systematic relation to behavioural events. Moreover, the dynamic patterns of correlation depend on the distance between neurons, and can emerge even without modulation of the firing rates. These findings support the notion that neurons can associate rapidly into a functional group in order to perform a computational task, at the same time becoming dissociated from concurrently activated competing groups. Thus, they call for a revision of prevailing models of neural coding that rely solely on single neuron firing rates.

Authors: Vaadia E, Haalman I, Abeles M, Bergman H, Prut Y, Slovin H, Aertsen A.
Year of publication: 1995
Journal: Nature. 1995 Feb 9;373(6514):515-8.

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“Working memory”