Dynamical features of higher-order correlation events: impact on cortical cells

Cogn Neurodyn. 2007 Mar;1(1):53-69. doi: 10.1007/s11571-006-9000-y. Epub 2006 Nov 25.


Cortical neurons receive signals from thousands of other neurons. The statistical properties of the input spike trains substantially shape the output response properties of each neuron. Experimental and theoretical investigations have mostly focused on the second order statistical features of the input spike trains (mean firing rates and pairwise correlations). Little is known of how higher order correlations affect the integration and firing behavior of a cell independently of the second order statistics. To address this issue, we simulated the dynamics of a population of 5000 neurons, controlling both their second order and higher-order correlation properties to reflect physiological data. We then used these ensemble dynamics as the input stage to morphologically reconstructed cortical cells (layer 5 pyramidal, layer 4 spiny stellate cell), and to an integrate and fire neuron. Our results show that changes done solely to the higher-order correlation properties of the network's dynamics significantly affect the response properties of a target neuron, both in terms of output rate and spike timing. Moreover, the neuronal morphology and voltage dependent mechanisms of the target neuron considerably modulate the quantitative aspects of these effects. Finally, we show how these results affect sparseness of neuronal representations, tuning properties, and feature selectivity of cortical cells.