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Neuron. 2006 Oct 19;52(2):347-58.

A synchronization-desynchronization code for natural communication signals.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, 51 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada.


Synchronous spiking of neural populations is hypothesized to play important computational roles in forming neural assemblies and solving the binding problem. Although the opposite phenomenon of desynchronization is well known from EEG studies, it is largely neglected on the neuronal level. We here provide an example of in vivo recordings from weakly electric fish demonstrating that, depending on the social context, different types of natural communication signals elicit transient desynchronization as well as synchronization of the electroreceptor population without changing the mean firing rate. We conclude that, in general, both positive and negative changes in the degree of synchrony can be the relevant signals for neural information processing.

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