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J Neurophysiol. 2010 Dec;104(6):3323-33. doi: 10.1152/jn.00679.2010. Epub 2010 Sep 22.

Spatiotemporal dynamics of rhythmic spinal interneurons measured with two-photon calcium imaging and coherence analysis.

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School of Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.


In rhythmic neural circuits, a neuron often fires action potentials with a constant phase to the rhythm, a timing relationship that can be functionally significant. To characterize these phase preferences in a large-scale, cell type-specific manner, we adapted multitaper coherence analysis for two-photon calcium imaging. Analysis of simulated data showed that coherence is a simple and robust measure of rhythmicity for calcium imaging data. When applied to the neonatal mouse hindlimb spinal locomotor network, the phase relationships between peak activity of >1,000 ventral spinal interneurons and motor output were characterized. Most interneurons showed rhythmic activity that was coherent and in phase with the ipsilateral motor output during fictive locomotion. The phase distributions of two genetically identified classes of interneurons were distinct from the ensemble population and from each other. There was no obvious spatial clustering of interneurons with similar phase preferences. Together, these results suggest that cell type, not neighboring neuron activity, is a better indicator of an interneuron's response during fictive locomotion. The ability to measure the phase preferences of many neurons with cell type and spatial information should be widely applicable for studying other rhythmic neural circuits.

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