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Science 304 (5670): 523-524

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

Also see the archival list of Science's Compass: Enhanced Perspectives

Enhanced: Time Is Precious

Moshe Abeles

Synaptic neurotransmission is relatively weak, so it is a puzzle how neurons are able to encode complicated pieces of information and then pass this information on to neighboring neurons. In his Perspective, Abeles explores the results of a new study (Ikegaya et al.) that detects patterns of spontaneous neuronal activity repeated with millisecond precision in cortical brain slices. The results suggest that these patterns represent activity in "synfire" chains, which enable neurons to accurately encode information and transfer it efficiently to their neighbors.

The author is at Gonda Brain Research Center, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel, and Center for Neural Computation, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. E-mail: moshe.abeles{at}

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