Classical studies have related the spiking of selected neocortical neurons to behavior, but little is known about activity sampled from the entire neural population. We recorded from neurons selected independent of spiking, using cell-attached recordings and two-photon calcium imaging, in the barrel cortex of mice performing an object localization task. Spike rates varied across neurons, from silence to >60 Hz. Responses were diverse, with some neurons showing large increases in spike rate when whiskers contacted the object. Nearly half the neurons discriminated object location; a small fraction of neurons discriminated perfectly. More active neurons were more discriminative. Layer (L) 4 and L5 contained the highest fractions of discriminating neurons (∼63% and 79%, respectively), but a few L2/3 neurons were also highly discriminating. Approximately 13,000 spikes per activated barrel column were available to mice for decision making. Coding of object location in the barrel cortex is therefore highly redundant.
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