Brain state dependency of information conveyed by sensory evoked spikes in the auditory thalamocortical system

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


The mammalian thalamocortical system is always active, with ongoing spontaneous activity that differs between behavioural states. For example, the inactivated state (characterised by synchronised slow oscillations in neural firing) is associated with deep sleep, anaesthesia, and loss of consciousness, whereas the activated state (characterised by desynchronised spontaneous activity) is associated with wakefulness and paradoxical sleep. Any sensory-evoked signal must interact with ongoing local dynamics and sensory information may be processed differently in these brain states.

Here we analyse the brain state dependency of stimulus-evoked spiking activity of neurons in the rat auditory thalamus and in multiple layers of the primary auditory cortex. Stimuli were presented in both the activated and inactivated states, and spiking activity compared between cell types, cortical depths and brain states. In both states, encoding strategies are heterogeneous across cell types and locations, as is the effect of brain state on these strategies. However, information theoretic measures and a Bayesian decoding technique reveal a shift in information conveyed by neurons across all recording areas: the most informative neurons tend to be less informative in the inactivated state, whereas the least informative neurons tend to be more informative in the inactivated state. Additionally, the post-stimulus time window in which neurons are most informative shifts between brain states and varies with cell location.

In conclusion, brain state dependency of stimulus-evoked activity is evident at this early stage of cortical sensory processing, where brain state is associated with differences in the amount and timing of information conveyed through spikes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventNeuroscience Day 2014 - Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh Queen Street, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Mar 201412 Mar 2014


ConferenceNeuroscience Day 2014
CountryUnited Kingdom

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