Stimulus information stored in lasting active and hidden network states is destroyed by network bursts.
In both humans and animals brief synchronizing bursts of epileptiform activity known as interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) can, even in the absence of overt seizures, cause transient cognitive impairments (TCI) that include problems with perception or short-term memory. While no evidence from single units is available, it has been assumed that IEDs destroy information represented in neuronal networks. Cultured neuronal networks are a model for generic cortical microcircuits, and their spontaneous activity is characterized by the presence of synchronized network bursts (SNBs), which share a number of properties with IEDs, including the high degree of synchronization and their spontaneous occurrence in the absence of an external stimulus. As a model approach to understanding the processes underlying IEDs, optogenetic stimulation and multielectrode array (MEA) recordings of cultured neuronal networks were used to study whether stimulus information represented in these networks survives SNBs. When such networks are optically stimulated they encode and maintain stimulus information for as long as one second. Experiments involved recording the network response to a single stimulus and trials where two different stimuli were presented sequentially, akin to a paired pulse trial. We broke the sequential stimulus trials into encoding, delay and readout phases and found that regardless of which phase the SNB occurs, stimulus-specific information was impaired. SNBs were observed to increase the mean network firing rate, but this did not translate monotonically into increases in network entropy. It was found that the more excitable a network, the more stereotyped its response was during a network burst. These measurements speak to whether SNBs are capable of transmitting information in addition to blocking it. These results are consistent with previous reports and provide baseline predictions concerning the neural mechanisms by which IEDs might cause TCI.
Dranias, MR; Westover, MB; Cash, S; VanDongen, AMJ
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