Taste-specific neuronal ensembles in the gustatory cortex of awake rats.
In gustatory cortex, single-neuron activity reflects the multimodal processing of taste stimuli. Little is known, however, about the interactions between gustatory cortical (GC) neurons during tastant processing. Here, these interactions were characterized. It was found that 36% (85 of 237) of neuron pairs, including many (61%) in which one or both single units were not taste specific, produced significant cross-correlations (CCs) to a subset of tastants across a hundreds of milliseconds timescale. Significant CCs arose from the coupling between the firing rates of neurons as those rates changed through time. Such coupling significantly increased the amount of tastant-specific information contained in ensembles. These data suggest that taste-specific GC assemblies may transiently form and coevolve on a behaviorally appropriate timescale, contributing to rats' ability to discriminate tastants.
Katz, DB; Simon, SA; Nicolelis, MAL
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