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Swindale, N. and Spacek, M. A. (2019): Visual cortex neurons phase-lock selectively to subsets of LFP oscillations. In: Journal of Neurophysiology, Vol. 121, No. 6: pp. 2364-2378

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It is generally thought that apart from receptive field differences, such as preferred orientation and spatial frequency selectivity, primary visual cortex neurons are functionally similar to each other. However, the genetic diversity of cortical neurons plus the existence of inputs additional to those required to explain known receptive field properties might suggest otherwise. Here we report the existence of desynchronized states in anesthetized cat area 17 lasting up to 45 min, characterized by variable narrow-band local field potential (UP) oscillations in the range 2-100 Hz and the absence of a synchronized 1/f frequency spectrum. During these periods, spontaneously active neurons phase-locked to variable subsets of LFP oscillations. Individual neurons often ignored frequencies that others phase-locked to. We suggest that these desynchronized periods may correspond to REM sleep-like episodes occurring under anesthesia. Frequency-selective codes may be used for signaling during these periods. Hence frequency-selective combination and frequency-labeled pathways may represent a previously unsuspected dimension of cortical organization. NEW & NOTEWORTHY We investigated spontaneous neuronal firing during periods of desynchronized local field potential (LFP) activity, resembling REM sleep, in anesthetized cats. During these periods, neurons synchronized their spikes to specific phases of multiple LFP frequency components, with some neurons ignoring frequencies that others were synchronized to. Some neurons fired at phase alignments of frequency pairs, thereby acting as phase coincidence detectors. These results suggest that internal brain signaling may use frequency combination codes to generate temporally structured spike trains.

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