Columns, Connections, and Correlations

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  29 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5965, pp. 503
DOI: 10.1126/science.327.5965.503-b

What is the nature of interactions between neurons in neural circuits? The prevalent hypothesis suggests that dense local connectivity causes nearby cortical neurons to receive substantial amounts of common input, which in turn leads to strong correlations between them. Now two studies challenge this view, which impacts our fundamental understanding of coding in the cortex. Ecker et al. (p. 584) investigated the statistics of correlated firing in pairs of neurons from area V1 of awake macaque monkeys. In contrast to previous studies, correlations turned out to be very low, irrespective of the stimulus being shown to the animals, the distances of the recording sites, and the similarity of the neuron's receptive fields or response properties. In an accompanying modeling and recording paper, Renart et al. (p. 587) demonstrate how it is possible to have zero noise correlation, even among cells with common input.

Navigate This Article