Stability of spontaneous, correlated activity in mouse auditory cortex

PLoS Comput Biol. 2019 Dec 9;15(12):e1007360. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007360. eCollection 2019 Dec.


Neural systems can be modeled as complex networks in which neural elements are represented as nodes linked to one another through structural or functional connections. The resulting network can be analyzed using mathematical tools from network science and graph theory to quantify the system's topological organization and to better understand its function. Here, we used two-photon calcium imaging to record spontaneous activity from the same set of cells in mouse auditory cortex over the course of several weeks. We reconstruct functional networks in which cells are linked to one another by edges weighted according to the correlation of their fluorescence traces. We show that the networks exhibit modular structure across multiple topological scales and that these multi-scale modules unfold as part of a hierarchy. We also show that, on average, network architecture becomes increasingly dissimilar over time, with similarity decaying monotonically with the distance (in time) between sessions. Finally, we show that a small fraction of cells maintain strongly-correlated activity over multiple days, forming a stable temporal core surrounded by a fluctuating and variable periphery. Our work indicates a framework for studying spontaneous activity measured by two-photon calcium imaging using computational methods and graphical models from network science. The methods are flexible and easily extended to additional datasets, opening the possibility of studying cellular level network organization of neural systems and how that organization is modulated by stimuli or altered in models of disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Calcium Signaling
  • Cell Tracking
  • Computational Biology
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*

Associated data

  • Dryad/10.5061/dryad.85387h3