Neuronal interactions are higher in the cortex than thalamus in the somatosensory pathway.
Kim, MJ; Kim, YB; Kang, KJ; Huh, N; Oh, JH; Kim, Y; Jung, MW
Neuroscience, 118(1):205-216, 2003
Previous studies have shown significant correlated discharges (noise correlation) and synergistic information coding among adjacent cortical neurons. In order to investigate whether such interactions are present at an earlier stage of sensory processing, we compared noise correlation and synergistic information transmission in the ventral posterolateral nucleus (VPLn) of thalamus and primary somatosensory cortex (SI) of anesthetized rats. A hind paw was stimulated electrically and responses of several neighboring neurons were recorded simultaneously with a tetrode. Analyses indicated that noise correlation in the SI was about four times higher than in the VPLn, and, interestingly, it was significantly reduced following sensory stimulation in both regions. Spike count distributions of individual VPLn units contained higher amounts of information about the delivery of external stimulation compared with those of SI units. When simultaneously recorded units were considered together, transmission of information was more interactive (synergistic or redundant) among SI than VPLn units. On average, information transmission was independent in the VPLn, but synergistic in the SI. The difference in synergistic information coding was largely attributable to different levels of noise correlation and their modulation by external sensory stimulation. These results indicate that neuronal interactions are relatively low at the thalamic level, but much enhanced at the cortical level along the somatosensory pathway. The enhanced neuronal interactions in the cortex may reflect the role of cortex in extracting higher features of sensory stimuli.
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