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Sci Adv. 2015 Aug 7;1(7):e1500229. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1500229. eCollection 2015 Aug.

Intrinsic coupling modes reveal the functional architecture of cortico-tectal networks.

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Department of Neurophysiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, 20246 Hamburg, Germany.
Department of Microsystems Engineering, University of Freiburg, 79110 Freiburg, Germany.


In the absence of sensory stimulation or motor output, the brain exhibits complex spatiotemporal patterns of intrinsically generated neural activity. Analysis of ongoing brain dynamics has identified the prevailing modes of cortico-cortical interaction; however, little is known about how such patterns of intrinsically generated activity are correlated between cortical and subcortical brain areas. We investigate the correlation structure of ongoing cortical and superior colliculus (SC) activity across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Ongoing cortico-tectal interaction was characterized by correlated fluctuations in the amplitude of delta, spindle, low gamma, and high-frequency oscillations (>100 Hz). Of these identified coupling modes, topographical patterns of high-frequency coupling were the most consistent with patterns of anatomical connectivity, reflecting synchronized spiking within cortico-tectal networks. Cortico-tectal coupling at high frequencies was temporally parcellated by the phase of slow cortical oscillations and was strongest for SC-cortex channel pairs that displayed overlapping visual spatial receptive fields. Despite displaying a high degree of spatial specificity, cortico-tectal coupling in lower-frequency bands did not match patterns of cortex-to-SC anatomical connectivity. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that neural activity is spontaneously coupled between cortex and SC, with high- and low-frequency modes of coupling reflecting direct and indirect cortico-tectal interactions, respectively.


corticotectal; high gamma; ongoing neural dynamics; oscillations; superior colliculus

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