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Spike-timing-dependent ensemble encoding by non-classically responsive cortical neurons.

  • Author(s): Insanally, Michele N;
  • Carcea, Ioana;
  • Field, Rachel E;
  • Rodgers, Chris C;
  • DePasquale, Brian;
  • Rajan, Kanaka;
  • DeWeese, Michael R;
  • Albanna, Badr F;
  • Froemke, Robert C
  • et al.

Neurons recorded in behaving animals often do not discernibly respond to sensory input and are not overtly task-modulated. These non-classically responsive neurons are difficult to interpret and are typically neglected from analysis, confounding attempts to connect neural activity to perception and behavior. Here, we describe a trial-by-trial, spike-timing-based algorithm to reveal the coding capacities of these neurons in auditory and frontal cortex of behaving rats. Classically responsive and non-classically responsive cells contained significant information about sensory stimuli and behavioral decisions. Stimulus category was more accurately represented in frontal cortex than auditory cortex, via ensembles of non-classically responsive cells coordinating the behavioral meaning of spike timings on correct but not error trials. This unbiased approach allows the contribution of all recorded neurons - particularly those without obvious task-related, trial-averaged firing rate modulation - to be assessed for behavioral relevance on single trials.

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