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PLoS One. 2011;6(5):e20046. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0020046. Epub 2011 May 23.

Comparison of LFP-based and spike-based spectro-temporal receptive fields and cross-correlation in cat primary auditory cortex.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Multi-electrode array recordings of spike and local field potential (LFP) activity were made from primary auditory cortex of 12 normal hearing, ketamine-anesthetized cats. We evaluated 259 spectro-temporal receptive fields (STRFs) and 492 frequency-tuning curves (FTCs) based on LFPs and spikes simultaneously recorded on the same electrode. We compared their characteristic frequency (CF) gradients and their cross-correlation distances. The CF gradient for spike-based FTCs was about twice that for 2-40 Hz-filtered LFP-based FTCs, indicating greatly reduced frequency selectivity for LFPs. We also present comparisons for LFPs band-pass filtered between 4-8 Hz, 8-16 Hz and 16-40 Hz, with spike-based STRFs, on the basis of their marginal frequency distributions. We find on average a significantly larger correlation between the spike based marginal frequency distributions and those based on the 16-40 Hz filtered LFP, compared to those based on the 4-8 Hz, 8-16 Hz and 2-40 Hz filtered LFP. This suggests greater frequency specificity for the 16-40 Hz LFPs compared to those of lower frequency content. For spontaneous LFP and spike activity we evaluated 1373 pair correlations for pairs with >200 spikes in 900 s per electrode. Peak correlation-coefficient space constants were similar for the 2-40 Hz filtered LFP (5.5 mm) and the 16-40 Hz LFP (7.4 mm), whereas for spike-pair correlations it was about half that, at 3.2 mm. Comparing spike-pairs with 2-40 Hz (and 16-40 Hz) LFP-pair correlations showed that about 16% (9%) of the variance in the spike-pair correlations could be explained from LFP-pair correlations recorded on the same electrodes within the same electrode array. This larger correlation distance combined with the reduced CF gradient and much broader frequency selectivity suggests that LFPs are not a substitute for spike activity in primary auditory cortex.

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