- Neural synchrony in cortical networks: history, concept and current status (2009)
- Following the discovery of context-dependent synchronization of oscillatory neuronal responses in the visual system, the role of neural synchrony in cortical networks has been expanded to provide a general mechanism for the coordination of distributed neural activity patterns. In the current paper, we present an update of the status of this hypothesis through summarizing recent results from our laboratory that suggest important new insights regarding the mechanisms, function and relevance of this phenomenon. In the first part, we present recent results derived from animal experiments and mathematical simulations that provide novel explanations and mechanisms for zero and nero-zero phase lag synchronization. In the second part, we shall discuss the role of neural synchrony for expectancy during perceptual organization and its role in conscious experience. This will be followed by evidence that indicates that in addition to supporting conscious cognition, neural synchrony is abnormal in major brain disorders, such as schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. We conclude this paper with suggestions for further research as well as with critical issues that need to be addressed in future studies.
- Membrane resonance enables stable and robust gamma oscillations (2012)
- Neuronal mechanisms underlying beta/gamma oscillations (20-80 Hz) are not completely understood. Here, we show that in vivo beta/gamma oscillations in the cat visual cortex sometimes exhibit remarkably stable frequency even when inputs fluctuate dramatically. Enhanced frequency stability is associated with stronger oscillations measured in individual units and larger power in the local field potential. Simulations of neuronal circuitry demonstrate that membrane properties of inhibitory interneurons strongly determine the characteristics of emergent oscillations. Exploration of networks containing either integrator or resonator inhibitory interneurons revealed that: (i) Resonance, as opposed to integration, promotes robust oscillations with large power and stable frequency via a mechanism called RING (Resonance INduced Gamma); resonance favors synchronization by reducing phase delays between interneurons and imposes bounds on oscillation cycle duration; (ii) Stability of frequency and robustness of the oscillation also depend on the relative timing of excitatory and inhibitory volleys within the oscillation cycle; (iii) RING can reproduce characteristics of both Pyramidal INterneuron Gamma (PING) and INterneuron Gamma (ING), transcending such classifications; (iv) In RING, robust gamma oscillations are promoted by slow but are impaired by fast inputs. Results suggest that interneuronal membrane resonance can be an important ingredient for generation of robust gamma oscillations having stable frequency.
- Timescales of multineuronal activity patterns reflect temporal structure of visual stimuli (2011)
- The investigation of distributed coding across multiple neurons in the cortex remains to this date a challenge. Our current understanding of collective encoding of information and the relevant timescales is still limited. Most results are restricted to disparate timescales, focused on either very fast, e.g., spike-synchrony, or slow timescales, e.g., firing rate. Here, we investigated systematically multineuronal activity patterns evolving on different timescales, spanning the whole range from spike-synchrony to mean firing rate. Using multi-electrode recordings from cat visual cortex, we show that cortical responses can be described as trajectories in a high-dimensional pattern space. Patterns evolve on a continuum of coexisting timescales that strongly relate to the temporal properties of stimuli. Timescales consistent with the time constants of neuronal membranes and fast synaptic transmission (5–20 ms) play a particularly salient role in encoding a large amount of stimulus-related information. Thus, to faithfully encode the properties of visual stimuli the brain engages multiple neurons into activity patterns evolving on multiple timescales.
- A small world of neuronal synchrony (2008)
- A small-world network has been suggested to be an efficient solution for achieving both modular and global processing-a property highly desirable for brain computations. Here, we investigated functional networks of cortical neurons using correlation analysis to identify functional connectivity. To reconstruct the interaction network, we applied the Ising model based on the principle of maximum entropy. This allowed us to assess the interactions by measuring pairwise correlations and to assess the strength of coupling from the degree of synchrony. Visual responses were recorded in visual cortex of anesthetized cats, simultaneously from up to 24 neurons. First, pairwise correlations captured most of the patterns in the population´s activity and, therefore, provided a reliable basis for the reconstruction of the interaction networks. Second, and most importantly, the resulting networks had small-world properties; the average path lengths were as short as in simulated random networks, but the clustering coefficients were larger. Neurons differed considerably with respect to the number and strength of interactions, suggesting the existence of "hubs" in the network. Notably, there was no evidence for scale-free properties. These results suggest that cortical networks are optimized for the coexistence of local and global computations: feature detection and feature integration or binding.
- Multidimensional patterns of neuronal activity: how do we see them? (2008)
- Poster presentation: Introduction The brain is a highly interconnected network of constantly interacting units. Understanding the collective behavior of these units requires a multi-dimensional approach. The results of such analyses are hard to visualize and interpret. Hence tools capable of dealing with such tasks become imperative. ....
- NeuroXidence: reliable and efficient analysis of an excess or deficiency of joint-spike events (2009)
- Poster presentation: We present a non-parametric and computationally-efficient method named NeuroXidence (see http://www.NeuroXidence.com ) that detects coordinated firing within a group of two or more neurons and tests whether the observed level of coordinated firing is significantly different from that expected by chance. NeuroXidence  considers the full auto-structure of the data, including the changes in the rate responses and the history dependencies in the spiking activity. We demonstrate that NeuroXidence can identify epochs with significant spike synchronisation even if these coincide with strong and fast rate modulations. We also show, that the method accounts for trial-by-trial variability in the rate responses and their latencies, and that it can be applied to short data windows lasting only tens of milliseconds. Based on simulated data we compare the performance of NeuroXidence with the UE-method [2,3] and the cross-correlation analysis. An application of NeuroXidence to 42 single-units (SU) recorded in area 17 of an anesthetized cat revealed significant coincident events of high complexities, involving firing of up to 8 SUs simultaneously (5 ms window). The results were highly consistent with those obtained by traditional pair-wise measures based on cross-correlation: Neuronal synchrony was strongest in stimulation conditions in which the orientation of the sinusoidal grating matched the preferred orientation of most of the SUs included in the analysis, and was the weakest when the neurons were stimulated least optimally. Interestingly, events of higher complexities showed stronger stimulus-specific modulation than pair-wise interactions. The results suggest strong evidence for stimulus specific synchronous firing and, therefore, support the temporal coding hypothesis in visual cortex. ...
- Distributed fading memory for stimulus properties in the primary visual cortex (2009)
- It is currently not known how distributed neuronal responses in early visual areas carry stimulus-related information. We made multielectrode recordings from cat primary visual cortex and applied methods from machine learning in order to analyze the temporal evolution of stimulus-related information in the spiking activity of large ensembles of around 100 neurons. We used sequences of up to three different visual stimuli (letters of the alphabet) presented for 100 ms and with intervals of 100 ms or larger. Most of the information about visual stimuli extractable by sophisticated methods of machine learning, i.e., support vector machines with nonlinear kernel functions, was also extractable by simple linear classification such as can be achieved by individual neurons. New stimuli did not erase information about previous stimuli. The responses to the most recent stimulus contained about equal amounts of information about both this and the preceding stimulus. This information was encoded both in the discharge rates (response amplitudes) of the ensemble of neurons and, when using short time constants for integration (e.g., 20 ms), in the precise timing of individual spikes (<= ~20 ms), and persisted for several 100 ms beyond the offset of stimuli. The results indicate that the network from which we recorded is endowed with fading memory and is capable of performing online computations utilizing information about temporally sequential stimuli. This result challenges models assuming frame-by-frame analyses of sequential inputs.