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Sci Rep. 2016 Mar 16;6:23176. doi: 10.1038/srep23176.

Dynamic Balance of Excitation and Inhibition in Human and Monkey Neocortex.

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Wyss Institute for Biologically-Inspired Engineering, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA.
New England Complex Systems Institute, Cambridge, MA, USA.
NYU Neuroscience Institute and Center for Neural Sciences, New York University, NYC, NY, USA.
Laboratory of Computational Neuroscience, Unité de Neurosciences, Information et Complexité, CNRS, Gif-Sur-Yvette, France.
Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière, UMRS 1127, CNRS UMR 7225, Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France.
Multimodal Imaging Laboratory, Departments of Neurosciences and Radiology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.
Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, Committee on Computational Neuroscience, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


Balance of excitation and inhibition is a fundamental feature of in vivo network activity and is important for its computations. However, its presence in the neocortex of higher mammals is not well established. We investigated the dynamics of excitation and inhibition using dense multielectrode recordings in humans and monkeys. We found that in all states of the wake-sleep cycle, excitatory and inhibitory ensembles are well balanced, and co-fluctuate with slight instantaneous deviations from perfect balance, mostly in slow-wave sleep. Remarkably, these correlated fluctuations are seen for many different temporal scales. The similarity of these computational features with a network model of self-generated balanced states suggests that such balanced activity is essentially generated by recurrent activity in the local network and is not due to external inputs. Finally, we find that this balance breaks down during seizures, where the temporal correlation of excitatory and inhibitory populations is disrupted. These results show that balanced activity is a feature of normal brain activity, and break down of the balance could be an important factor to define pathological states.

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