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Rates and Rhythms: A Synergistic View of Frequency and Temporal Coding in Neuronal Networks

Lookup NU author(s): Matthew Ainsworth, Professor Mark Cunningham, Professor Miles Whittington


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In the CNS, activity of individual neurons has a small but quantifiable relationship to sensory representations and motor outputs. Coactivation of a few 10s to 1 00s of neurons can code sensory inputs and behavioral task performance within psychophysical limits. However, in a sea of sensory inputs and demand for complex motor outputs how is the activity of such small subpopulations of neurons organized? Two theories dominate in this respect: increases in spike rate (rate coding) and sharpening of the coincidence of spiking in active neurons (temporal coding). Both have computational advantages and are far from mutually exclusive. Here, we review evidence for a bias in neuronal circuits toward temporal coding and the coexistence of rate and temporal coding during population rhythm generation. The coincident expression of multiple types of gamma rhythm in sensory cortex suggests a mechanistic substrate for combining rate and temporal codes on the basis of stimulus strength.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ainsworth M, Lee S, Cunningham MO, Traub RD, Kopell NJ, Whittington MA

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Neuron

Year: 2012

Volume: 75

Issue: 4

Pages: 572-583

Print publication date: 22/08/2012

ISSN (print): 0896-6273

ISSN (electronic): 1097-4199

Publisher: CELL PRESS


DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.08.004