It has been postulated that selective temporal coordination between neurons and development of functional neuronal assemblies are fundamental for brain function and behavior. Still, there is little evidence that functionally relevant coordination emerges preferentially in neuronal assemblies directly controlling behavioral output. We investigated coherence between primary motor cortex and the dorsal striatum as rats learn an abstract operant task. Striking coherence developed between these regions during learning. Interestingly, coherence was selectively increased in cells controlling behavioral output relative to adjacent cells. Furthermore, the temporal offset of these interactions aligned closely with corticostriatal conduction delays, demonstrating highly precise timing. Spikes from either region were followed by a consistent phase in the other, suggesting that network feedback reinforces coherence. Together, these results demonstrate that temporally precise coherence develops during learning specifically in output-relevant neuronal populations and further suggest that correlations in oscillatory activity serve to synchronize widespread brain networks to produce behavior.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.