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Cereb Cortex. 2017 Mar 1;27(3):1758-1764. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw006.

Variable Temporal Integration of Stimulus Patterns in the Mouse Barrel Cortex.

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Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante, CSIC and Universidad Miguel Hernández, 03550 Sant Joan d'Alacant, Spain.
Sussex Neuroscience, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.
Laboratorio de Medios e Interfases, Departamento de Bioingeniería, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán-Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Tucumán, Argentina.
Laboratory of Neural Computation, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia Rovereto, 38068 Rovereto, Italy.


Making sense of the world requires distinguishing temporal patterns and sequences lasting hundreds of milliseconds or more. How cortical circuits integrate over time to represent specific sensory sequences remains elusive. Here we assessed whether neurons in the barrel cortex (BC) integrate information about temporal patterns of whisker movements. We performed cell-attached recordings in anesthetized mice while delivering whisker deflections at variable intervals and compared the information carried by neurons about the latest interstimulus interval (reflecting sensitivity to instantaneous frequency) and earlier intervals (reflecting integration over timescales up to several hundred milliseconds). Neurons carried more information about the latest interval than earlier ones. The amount of temporal integration varied with neuronal responsiveness and with the cortical depth of the recording site, that is, with laminar location. A subset of neurons in the upper layers displayed the strongest integration. Highly responsive neurons in the deeper layers encoded the latest interval but integrated particularly weakly. Under these conditions, BC neurons act primarily as encoders of current stimulation parameters; however, our results suggest that temporal integration over hundreds of milliseconds can emerge in some neurons within BC.


cell-attached; in vivo; sensory coding; somatosensory; vibrissae

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