Speaker: Valentin Dragoi, Ph.D.
Affiliation: McGovern Medical School, University of Texas at Houston
Date: Monday, May 14, 4:00 PM in Singleton Auditorium, MIT Building 46-3002, 3rd Floor, 43 Vassar Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
Talk Title: Population synchrony in cortical networks
Abstract: Brain activity during wakefulness is characterized by fluctuations in neuronal responses at different time scales. Whether these fluctuations play any role in modulating the coding of sensory information and the accuracy of behavioral responses is poorly understood. Using multiple-electrode recording techniques I will show that slow changes in local population synchrony in monkey visual cortex impair the coding of sensory information and perceptual performance. These changes also occur in executive areas, such as prefrontal cortex, while monkeys freely explore their environment during foraging. However, while population synchrony is detrimental for neural coding and behavior at long time scales, it plays a beneficial role at shorter time scales. Indeed, by simultaneously recording visual cortical populations in multiple areas we recently discovered that the precise temporal coordination between the spikes of three of more neurons carries information about perceptual reports in the absence of firing rate modulation. These results demonstrate an unexpected functional impact of synchrony in local cortical networks at slow and rapid time scales.