Default activity patterns at the neocortical microcircuit level

Front Integr Neurosci. 2012 Jun 12;6:30. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2012.00030. eCollection 2012.


Even in absence of sensory stimuli cortical networks exhibit complex, self-organized activity patterns. While the function of those spontaneous patterns of activation remains poorly understood, recent studies both in vivo and in vitro have demonstrated that neocortical neurons activate in a surprisingly similar sequential order both spontaneously and following input into cortex. For example, neurons that tend to fire earlier within spontaneous bursts of activity also fire earlier than other neurons in response to sensory stimuli. These "default patterns" can last hundreds of milliseconds and are strongly conserved under a variety of conditions. In this paper, we will review recent evidence for these default patterns at the local cortical level. We speculate that cortical architecture imposes common constraints on spontaneous and evoked activity flow, which result in the similarity of the patterns.

Keywords: default mode; imaging; microcircuit; neocortex; spontaneous; tetrode.