NEUROSCIENCE: Synchronization During Movement

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Science  09 Mar 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5510, pp. 1861c
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5510.1861c

It has been thought that the relevant code the brain uses to store and process information is the rate at which neurons fire action potentials, or spike. Recently, this idea has been challenged by suggestions that information also may be encoded in the synchronous discharge of assemblies of neurons. Baker et al. simultaneously recorded action potential trains from a large number of neurons in the primate motor cortex during a complex movement task that required precise finger coordination interspersed with hold periods. Using the novel statistical technique of time-resolved cross-correlation, they could distinguish genuine changes in synchronization from others that arose from simple co-activation of neurons during the task. They found that synchrony among neurons was maximal during the hold period of the task and that synchrony between trains of action potentials had both oscillatory and nonoscillatory components. Thus, synchrony on a moderate timescale (10 milliseconds) may offer an important mechanism for motor control. — PRS

Acknowledgments

J. Neurophysiol. 85, 869 (2001).

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