Multineuronal spike sequences repeat with millisecond precision

Front Neural Circuits. 2013 Jun 21;7:112. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00112. eCollection 2013.


Cortical microcircuits are nonrandomly wired by neurons. As a natural consequence, spikes emitted by microcircuits are also nonrandomly patterned in time and space. One of the prominent spike organizations is a repetition of fixed patterns of spike series across multiple neurons. However, several questions remain unsolved, including how precisely spike sequences repeat, how the sequences are spatially organized, how many neurons participate in sequences, and how different sequences are functionally linked. To address these questions, we monitored spontaneous spikes of hippocampal CA3 neurons ex vivo using a high-speed functional multineuron calcium imaging (fMCI) technique that allowed us to monitor spikes with millisecond resolution and to record the location of spiking and non-spiking neurons. Multineuronal spike sequences (MSSs) were overrepresented in spontaneous activity compared to the statistical chance level. Approximately 75% of neurons participated in at least one sequence during our observation period. The participants were sparsely dispersed and did not show specific spatial organization. The number of sequences relative to the chance level decreased when larger time frames were used to detect sequences. Thus, sequences were precise at the millisecond level. Sequences often shared common spikes with other sequences; parts of sequences were subsequently relayed by following sequences, generating complex chains of multiple sequences.

Keywords: action potentials; calcium imaging; hippocampus; ripple; spike sequences; spontaneous activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors