Long-range intralaminar noise correlations in the barrel cortex. Academic Article uri icon


  • Identifying the properties of correlations in the firing of neocortical neurons is central to our understanding of cortical information processing. It has been generally assumed, by virtue of the columnar organization of the neocortex, that the firing of neurons residing in a certain vertical domain is highly correlated. On the other hand, firing correlations between neurons steeply decline with horizontal distance. Technical difficulties in sampling neurons with sufficient spatial information have precluded the critical evaluation of these notions. We used 128-channel "silicon probes" to examine the spike-count noise correlations during spontaneous activity between multiple neurons with identified laminar position and over large horizontal distances in the anesthetized rat barrel cortex. Eigen decomposition of correlation coefficient matrices revealed that the laminar position of a neuron is a significant determinant of these correlations, such that the fluctuations of layer 5B/6 neurons are in opposite direction to those of layers 5A and 4. Moreover, we found that within each experiment, the distribution of horizontal, intralaminar spike-count correlation coefficients, up to a distance of ∼1.5 mm, is practically identical to the distribution of vertical correlations. Taken together, these data reveal that the neuron's laminar position crucially affects its role in cortical processing. Moreover, our analyses reveal that this laminar effect extends over several functional columns. We propose that within the cortex the influence of the horizontal elements exists in a dynamic balance with the influence of the vertical domain and this balance is modulated with brain states to shape the network's behavior.

publication date

  • March 18, 2015