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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 May 27;105(21):7576-81. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800537105. Epub 2008 May 22.

Neuronal avalanches organize as nested theta- and beta/gamma-oscillations during development of cortical layer 2/3.

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Laboratory of Systems Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Maturation of the cerebral cortex involves the spontaneous emergence of distinct patterns of neuronal synchronization, which regulate neuronal differentiation, synapse formation, and serve as a substrate for information processing. The intrinsic activity patterns that characterize the maturation of cortical layer 2/3 are poorly understood. By using microelectrode array recordings in vivo and in vitro, we show that this development is marked by the emergence of nested - and beta/gamma-oscillations that require NMDA- and GABA(A)-mediated synaptic transmission. The oscillations organized as neuronal avalanches, i.e., they were synchronized across cortical sites forming diverse and millisecond-precise spatiotemporal patterns that distributed in sizes according to a power law with a slope of -1.5. The correspondence between nested oscillations and neuronal avalanches required activation of the dopamine D(1) receptor. We suggest that the repetitive formation of neuronal avalanches provides an intrinsic template for the selective linking of external inputs to developing superficial layers.

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