Trial-to-trial correlation between thalamic sensory response and global EEG activity


Yonatan Katz, as above.


Thalamic gating of sensory inputs to the cortex varies with behavioral conditions, such as sleep–wake cycles, or with different stages of anesthesia. Behavioral conditions in turn are accompanied by stereotypic spectral content of the EEG. In the rodent somatosensory system, the receptive field size of the ventral posteromedial thalamic nucleus (VPM) shrinks when anesthesia is deepened. Here we examined whether evoked thalamic responses are correlated with global EEG activity on a fine time scale of a few seconds. Trial-by-trial analysis of responses of VPM cells to whisker stimulation in lightly anesthetized rats indicated that increased EEG power in the delta band (1–4 Hz) was accompanied by a small, but highly significant, reduction in spontaneous and evoked thalamic firing. The opposite effect was found for the gamma EEG band (30–50 Hz). These significant correlations were not accompanied by an apparent change in the size of the receptive fields and were not EEG phase-related. The correlation between EEG and firing rate was observed only in neurons that responded to multiple whiskers and was higher for the non-principal whiskers. Importantly, the contributions of the two EEG bands to the modulation of VPM responses were to a large extent independent of each other. Our findings suggest that information conveyed by different whiskers can be rapidly modulated according to the global brain activity.