Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Spike Synchronization in Motor Cortical Function


Science 12 December 1997: Vol. 278. no. 5345, pp. 1950 - 1953

Spike Synchronization and Rate Modulation Differentially Involved in Motor Cortical Function

Alexa Riehle, Sonja Grün, Markus Diesmann, Ad Aertsen

A. Riehle, Center for Research in Cognitive Neuroscience, CNRS, 31 Chemin Joseph Aiguier, 13402 Marseille Cx 20, France.
S. Grün, Department of Physiology, The Hebrew University, Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.
M. Diesmann and A. Aertsen, Department of Neurobiology and Biophysics, Institute of Biology III, Albert-Ludwigs-University, Schänzlestrasse 1, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.



It is now commonly accepted that planning and execution of movements are based on distributed processing by neuronal populations in motor cortical areas. Simultaneously recorded activities of neurons in the primary motor cortex of monkeys during performance of a delayed-pointing task exhibited context-dependent, rapid changes in the patterns of coincident action potentials. Accurate spike synchronization occurred in relation to external events (stimuli, movements) and was commonly accompanied by discharge rate modulations but without precise time locking of the spikes to these external events. Spike synchronization also occurred in relation to purely internal events (stimulus expectancy), where firing rate modulations were distinctly absent. These findings indicate that internally generated synchronization of individual spike discharges may subserve the cortical organization of cognitive motor processes.

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