During slow-wave sleep and anesthesia, mammalian cortex exhibits a synchronized state during which neurons shift from a largely nonfiring to a firing state, known as an Up-state transition. Up-state transitions may constitute the default activity pattern of the entire cortex (Neske GT. Front Neural Circuits 9: 88, 2016) and could be critical to understanding cortical function, yet the genesis of such transitions and their interaction with single neurons is not well understood. It was recently shown that neurons firing at rates >2 Hz fire spikes in a stereotyped order during Up-state transitions (Luczak A, McNaughton BL, Harris KD. Nat Rev Neurosci 16: 745-755, 2015), yet it is still unknown if Up states are homogeneous and whether spiking order is present in neurons with rates <2 Hz (the majority). Using extracellular recordings from anesthetized cats and mice and from naturally sleeping rats, we show for the first time that Up-state transitions can be classified into several types based on the shape of the local field potential (LFP) during each transition. Individual LFP events could be localized in time to within 1-4 ms, more than an order of magnitude less than in previous studies. The majority of recorded neurons synchronized their firing to within ±5-15 ms relative to each Up-state transition. Simultaneous electrophysiology and wide-field imaging in mouse confirmed that LFP event clusters are cortex-wide phenomena. Our findings show that Up states are of different types and point to the potential importance of temporal order and millisecond-scale signaling by cortical neurons.NEW & NOTEWORTHY During cortical Up-state transitions in sleep and anesthesia, neurons undergo brief periods of increased firing in an order similar to that occurring in awake states. We show that these transitions can be classified into distinct types based on the shape of the local field potential. Transition times can be defined to <5 ms. Most neurons synchronize their firing to within ±5-15 ms of the transitions and fire in a consistent order.
Keywords: Up states; clustering; local field potential; single-neuron recording; spike order.