Sequentially activated discrete modules appear as traveling waves in neuronal measurements with limited spatiotemporal sampling

Yuval Orsher, Ariel Rom, Rotem Perel, Yoav Lahini, Pablo Blinder, Mark Shein-Idelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Numerous studies have identified traveling waves in the cortex and suggested they play important roles in brain processing. These waves are most often measured using macroscopic methods that are unable to assess the local spiking activity underlying wave dynamics. Here, we investigated the possibility that waves may not be traveling at the single neuron scale. We first show that sequentially activating two discrete brain areas can appear as traveling waves in EEG simulations. We next reproduce these results using an analytical model of two sequentially activated regions. Using this model, we were able to generate wave-like activity with variable directions, velocities, and spatial patterns, and to map the discriminability limits between traveling waves and modular sequential activations. Finally, we investigated the link between field potentials and single neuron excitability using large-scale measurements from turtle cortex ex vivo. We found that while field potentials exhibit wave-like dynamics, the underlying spiking activity was better described by consecutively activated spatially adjacent groups of neurons. Taken together, this study suggests caution when interpreting phase delay measurements as continuously propagating wavefronts in two different spatial scales. A careful distinction between modular and wave excitability profiles across scales will be critical for understanding the nature of cortical computations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberRP92254
JournaleLife
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Funding

FundersFunder number
National Natural Science Foundation of China
ISF-NSFC3430/20

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