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Biosystems. 2002 Oct-Dec;67(1-3):187-93.

The role of individual spikes and spike patterns in population coding of stimulus location in rat somatosensory cortex.

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Cognitive Neuroscience Sector, International School for Advanced Studies, Via Beirut 2/4, 34014 Trieste, Italy.


This report addresses the nature of population coding in sensory cortex by applying information theoretic analysis to data recorded simultaneously from neuron pairs located in primary somatosensory cortex of anaesthetised rats. We studied how cortical spike trains code for the location of a whisker stimulus on the rat's snout. We found that substantially more information was conveyed by 10 ms precision spike timing compared with that conveyed by the number of spikes counted over a 40 ms response interval. Most of this information was accounted for by the timing of individual spikes. In particular, it was the first post-stimulus spikes that were crucial. Spike patterns within individual cells played a smaller role; spike patterns across cells were negligible. This pattern of results was robust both to the exact nature of the stimulus set and to the precision at which spikes were binned.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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