This paper explores if dynamic modulation of coherent firing serves cortical functions. We recorded neuronal activity in the frontal cortex of behaving monkeys and found that temporal coincidences of spikes firing of different neurons can emerge within a fraction of a second in relation to the animal behavior. The temporal patterns of the correlation could not be predicted from the modulations of the neurons firing rate and finally, the patterns of correlation depend on the distance between neurons. These findings call for a revision of prevailing models of neural coding that solely rely on firing rates. The findings suggest that modification of neuronal interactions can serve as a mechanism by which neurons associate rapidly into a functional group in order to perform a specific computational task. Increased correlation between members of the groups, and decreased or negative correlation with others, enhance the ability to dissociate one group from concurrently activated competing groups. Such modulation of neuronal interactions allows each neuron to become a member of several different groups and participate in different computational tasks.
Emergence of spatio-temporal patterns in neuronal activity
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