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Auditory Cortical Local Subnetworks Are Characterized by Sharply Synchronous Activity


In primary auditory cortex (AI), broadly correlated firing has been commonly observed. In contrast, sharply synchronous firing has rarely been seen and has not been well characterized. Therefore, we examined cat AI local subnetworks using cross-correlation and spectrotemporal receptive field (STRF) analysis for neighboring neurons. Sharply synchronous firing responses were observed predominantly for neurons separated by <150 μm. This high synchrony was independent of layers and was present between all distinguishable cell types. The sharpest synchrony was seen in supragranular layers and between regular spiking units. Synchronous spikes conveyed more stimulus information than nonsynchronous spikes. Neighboring neurons in all layers had similar best frequencies and similar STRFs, with the highest similarity in supragranular and granular layers. Spectral tuning selectivity and latency were only moderately conserved in these local, high-synchrony AI subnetworks. Overall, sharp synchrony is a specific characteristic of fine-scale networks within the AI and local functional processing is well ordered and similar, but not identical, for neighboring neurons of all cell types.

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