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Science. 2004 Apr 23;304(5670):559-64.

Synfire chains and cortical songs: temporal modules of cortical activity.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.


How can neural activity propagate through cortical networks built with weak, stochastic synapses? We find precise repetitions of spontaneous patterns of synaptic inputs in neocortical neurons in vivo and in vitro. These patterns repeat after minutes, maintaining millisecond accuracy. Calcium imaging of slices reveals reactivation of sequences of cells during the occurrence of repeated intracellular synaptic patterns. The spontaneous activity drifts with time, engaging different cells. Sequences of active neurons have distinct spatial structures and are repeated in the same order over tens of seconds, revealing modular temporal dynamics. Higher order sequences are replayed with compressed timing.

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