Natural grouping of neural responses reveals spatially segregated clusters in prearcuate cortex

Neuron. 2015 Mar 18;85(6):1359-73. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.02.014. Epub 2015 Feb 26.


A fundamental challenge in studying the frontal lobe is to parcellate this cortex into "natural" functional modules despite the absence of topographic maps, which are so helpful in primary sensory areas. Here we show that unsupervised clustering algorithms, applied to 96-channel array recordings from prearcuate gyrus, reveal spatially segregated subnetworks that remain stable across behavioral contexts. Looking for natural groupings of neurons based on response similarities, we discovered that the recorded area includes at least two spatially segregated subnetworks that differentially represent behavioral choice and reaction time. Importantly, these subnetworks are detectable during different behavioral states and, surprisingly, are defined better by "common noise" than task-evoked responses. Our parcellation process works well on "spontaneous" neural activity, and thus bears strong resemblance to the identification of "resting-state" networks in fMRI data sets. Our results demonstrate a powerful new tool for identifying cortical subnetworks by objective classification of simultaneously recorded electrophysiological activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain Mapping / methods
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Haplorhini
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*