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PLoS One. 2014 Aug 25;9(8):e105071. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105071. eCollection 2014.

Independent components of neural activity carry information on individual populations.

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Department of Neurophysiology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Warsaw, Poland.


Local field potential (LFP), the low-frequency part of the potential recorded extracellularly in the brain, reflects neural activity at the population level. The interpretation of LFP is complicated because it can mix activity from remote cells, on the order of millimeters from the electrode. To understand better the relation between the recordings and the local activity of cells we used a large-scale network thalamocortical model to compute simultaneous LFP, transmembrane currents, and spiking activity. We used this model to study the information contained in independent components obtained from the reconstructed Current Source Density (CSD), which smooths transmembrane currents, decomposed further with Independent Component Analysis (ICA). We found that the three most robust components matched well the activity of two dominating cell populations: superior pyramidal cells in layer 2/3 (rhythmic spiking) and tufted pyramids from layer 5 (intrinsically bursting). The pyramidal population from layer 2/3 could not be well described as a product of spatial profile and temporal activation, but by a sum of two such products which we recovered in two of the ICA components in our analysis, which correspond to the two first principal components of PCA decomposition of layer 2/3 population activity. At low noise one more cell population could be discerned but it is unlikely that it could be recovered in experiment given typical noise ranges.

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