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B2 - Computational analysis of synchronization in cortical spike data

Theo Geisel and Stefan Treue

Electrophysiological experiments in awake behaving animals have demonstrated that the occurrence of spike synchronization is linked to the behaviroal context (e.g. Prut et al. 1998) and may occur aligned to external as wel as internal events (e.g. Riehle et al. 1997, Fries et al. 2001). Different models have been proposed to explain the capability of the cortical substrate to support synchronous spiking (e.g. Abeles 1991, Singer 1999, Diesmann et al. 1999, Denker et al. 2004). However, the origin of spike synchronization in the brain remains unclear. Studying the variability of spike counts across trials in multiple single-unit recordings in the awake monkey we recently observed a relationship between the occurrence of precise spike synchronization and the dynamics of spike count variability (Grün et al. 2003). Periods with significant spike synchronization where often accompanied by an increased level of spike count variability suggesting the activation of specific subnetworks rather than a mere shifting of spike times. This finding for the first time links the occurrence of precise spike synchronization to additional statistical features of the parallel spike sequences. The project involves the development of statistical tools and data analysis (e.g. Grün et al. 2002) as well as modelling (e.g. Tetzlaff et al. 2003 2004) and in the later phase large scale computer simulations (Morrison et al. 2003).

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