Sparse Coding and High-Order Correlations in Cortical Networks
Sparse coding and high-order correlations in fine-scale cortical networks
Ifije E. Ohiorhenuan, Ferenc Mechler, Keith P. Purpura, Anita M. Schmid, Qin Hu, and Jonathan D. Victor
Nature, 466, 617–621 (2010)
Connectivity in the cortex is organized at multiple scales,
suggesting that scale-dependent correlated activity is particularly
important for understanding the behavior of sensory cortices and
their function in stimulus encoding. Here, we analyze the scale-dependent
structure of cortical interactions by using maximum entropy models
to characterize multiple-tetrode recordings from primary visual
cortex of anesthetized monkeys (Macaca mulatta).
We compare the properties of firing patterns among local clusters of neurons
(<300 microns) with neurons separated by larger distances (600-2500 microns).
We find that local firing patterns are distinctive: while multi-neuronal firing patterns at larger distances can be predicted by pairwise interactions, patterns within local clusters often show evidence of high-order correlations. Surprisingly, these local correlations are flexible and rapidly reorganized by visual input. While they modestly reduce the amount of information that a cluster conveys, they also modify the format of this information, creating sparser codes by increasing the periods of total quiescence, and concentrating information into briefer periods of common activity. These results imply a hierarchical organization of neuronal correlations: simple pairwise correlations link neurons over scales of tens to hundreds of minicolumns, but on the scale of a few minicolumns, ensembles of neurons form complex subnetworks whose moment-to-moment effective connectivity is dynamically reorganized by the stimulus.
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