Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization -- Department for Nonlinear Dynamics and Network Dynamics Group
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Monday, 29.02.2016 14:15 c.t.

Repertoires of spike avalanches are modulated by behavior and novelty

by Prof. Dr. Mauro Copelli
from Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Departamento de Fisica, Recife, Brazil

Contact person: Viola Priesemann


Ludwig Prandtl lecture hall


Neuronal avalanches measured as consecutive bouts of thresholded field potentials represent a statistical signature that the brain operates near a critical point. In theory, criticality optimizes stimulus sensitivity, information transmission, computational capability and mnemonic repertoires size. Field potential avalanches recorded via multielectrode arrays from cortical slice cultures are repeatable spatiotemporal activity patterns. It remains unclear whether avalanches of action potentials observed in forebrain regions of freely-behaving rats also form recursive repertoires, and whether these have any behavioral relevance. Here we show that spike avalanches, recorded from hippocampus and sensory neocortex of freely-behaving rats, constitute distinct families of recursive spatiotemporal patterns. A significant number of those patterns were specific to a behavioral state. Although avalanches produced during sleep were mostly similar to others that occurred during waking, the repertoire of patterns recruited during sleep differed significantly from that of waking. More importantly, exposure to novel objects increased the rate at which new patterns arose, also leading to changes in post-exposure repertoires, which were significantly different from those before the exposure. A significant number of families occurred exclusively during periods of whisker contact with objects, but few were associated with specific objects. Altogether, the results provide original evidence linking behavior and criticality at the spike level: spike avalanches form repertoires that emerge in waking, recur during sleep, are diversified by novelty and contribute to object representation.

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