Plasticity of recurring spatiotemporal activity patterns in cortical networks

Radhika Madhavan, Zenas C Chao, Steve M Potter
2007 Physical Biology  
How do neurons encode and store information for long periods of time? Recurring patterns of activity have been reported in various cortical structures and were suggested to play a role in information processing and memory. To study the potential role of bursts of action potentials in memory mechanisms, we investigated patterns of spontaneous multi-single-unit activity in dissociated rat cortical cultures in vitro. Spontaneous spikes were recorded from networks of approximately 50 000 neurons
more » ... glia cultured on a grid of 60 extracellular substrateembedded electrodes (multi-electrode arrays). These networks expressed spontaneous culturewide bursting from approximately one week in vitro. During bursts, a large portion of the active electrodes showed elevated levels of firing. Spatiotemporal activity patterns within spontaneous bursts were clustered using a correlation-based clustering algorithm, and the occurrences of these burst clusters were tracked over several hours. This analysis revealed spatiotemporally diverse bursts occurring in well-defined patterns, which remained stable for several hours. Activity evoked by strong local tetanic stimulation resulted in significant changes in the occurrences of spontaneous bursts belonging to different clusters, indicating that the dynamical flow of information in the neuronal network had been altered. The diversity of spatiotemporal structure and long-term stability of spontaneous bursts together with their plastic nature strongly suggests that such network patterns could be used as codes for information transfer and the expression of memories stored in cortical networks.
doi:10.1088/1478-3975/4/3/005 pmid:17928657 pmcid:PMC2577584 fatcat:6er6mexsvzaclcgpxulzvxdonm