Laminar Distribution of Phase-Amplitude Coupling of Spontaneous Current Sources and Sinks

Front Neurosci. 2015 Dec 22;9:454. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00454. eCollection 2015.


Although resting-state functional connectivity is a commonly used neuroimaging paradigm, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Thalamo-cortical and cortico-cortical circuits generate oscillations at different frequencies during spontaneous activity. However, it remains unclear how the various rhythms interact and whether their interactions are lamina-specific. Here we investigated intra- and inter-laminar spontaneous phase-amplitude coupling (PAC). We recorded local-field potentials using laminar probes inserted in the forelimb representation of rat area S1. We then computed time-series of frequency-band- and lamina-specific current source density (CSD), and PACs of CSD for all possible pairs of the classical frequency bands in the range of 1-150 Hz. We observed both intra- and inter-laminar spontaneous PAC. Of 18 possible combinations, 12 showed PAC, with the highest measures of interaction obtained for the pairs of the theta/gamma and delta/gamma bands. Intra- and inter-laminar PACs involving layers 2/3-5a were higher than those involving layer 6. Current sinks (sources) in the delta band were associated with increased (decreased) amplitudes of high-frequency signals in the beta to fast gamma bands throughout layers 2/3-6. Spontaneous sinks (sources) of the theta and alpha bands in layers 2/3-4 were on average linked to dipoles completed by sources (sinks) in layer 6, associated with high (low) amplitudes of the beta to fast-gamma bands in the entire cortical column. Our findings show that during spontaneous activity, delta, theta, and alpha oscillations are associated with periodic excitability, which for the theta and alpha bands is lamina-dependent. They further emphasize the differences between the function of layer 6 and that of the superficial layers, and the role of layer 6 in controlling activity in those layers. Our study links theories on the involvement of PAC in resting-state functional connectivity with previous work that revealed lamina-specific anatomical thalamo-cortico-cortical connections.

Keywords: cortical layers; cross-frequency coupling; current-source density (CSD); local-field potentials (LFP); phase-amplitude coupling; primary somatosensory cortex; resting state functional connectivity; spontaneous activity.