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Science 304 (5670): 559-564

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Synfire Chains and Cortical Songs: Temporal Modules of Cortical Activity

Yuji Ikegaya,1* Gloster Aaron,1* Rosa Cossart,1 Dmitriy Aronov,1 Ilan Lampl,2 David Ferster,2 Rafael Yuste1{dagger}

Abstract: How can neural activity propagate through cortical networks built with weak, stochastic synapses? We find precise repetitions of spontaneous patterns of synaptic inputs in neocortical neurons in vivo and in vitro. These patterns repeat after minutes, maintaining millisecond accuracy. Calcium imaging of slices reveals reactivation of sequences of cells during the occurrence of repeated intracellular synaptic patterns. The spontaneous activity drifts with time, engaging different cells. Sequences of active neurons have distinct spatial structures and are repeated in the same order over tens of seconds, revealing modular temporal dynamics. Higher order sequences are replayed with compressed timing.

1 Department of Biological Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA.
2 Department of Neurobiology and Physiology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.

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* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: rmy5{at}

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