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Front Neuroinform. 2011 Dec 20;5:32. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2011.00032. eCollection 2011.

On the estimation of population-specific synaptic currents from laminar multielectrode recordings.

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Department of Radiology, University of California San Diego La Jolla, CA, USA.


Multielectrode array recordings of extracellular electrical field potentials along the depth axis of the cerebral cortex are gaining popularity as an approach for investigating the activity of cortical neuronal circuits. The low-frequency band of extracellular potential, i.e., the local field potential (LFP), is assumed to reflect synaptic activity and can be used to extract the laminar current source density (CSD) profile. However, physiological interpretation of the CSD profile is uncertain because it does not disambiguate synaptic inputs from passive return currents and does not identify population-specific contributions to the signal. These limitations prevent interpretation of the CSD in terms of synaptic functional connectivity in the columnar microcircuit. Here we present a novel anatomically informed model for decomposing the LFP signal into population-specific contributions and for estimating the corresponding activated synaptic projections. This involves a linear forward model, which predicts the population-specific laminar LFP in response to synaptic inputs applied at different positions along each population and a linear inverse model, which reconstructs laminar profiles of synaptic inputs from laminar LFP data based on the forward model. Assuming spatially smooth synaptic inputs within individual populations, the model decomposes the columnar LFP into population-specific contributions and estimates the corresponding laminar profiles of synaptic input as a function of time. It should be noted that constant synaptic currents at all positions along a neuronal population cannot be reconstructed, as this does not result in a change in extracellular potential. However, constraining the solution using a priori knowledge of the spatial distribution of synaptic connectivity provides the further advantage of estimating the strength of active synaptic projections from the columnar LFP profile thus fully specifying synaptic inputs.


cortical column; current source density; extracellular potential; inverse problem; local field potential; neuronal population; synaptic activity

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