Cross-trial correlation analysis of evoked potentials reveals arousal-related attenuation of thalamo-cortical coupling
We describe a computational method for assessing functional connectivity in sensory neuronal networks. The method, which we term cross-trial correlation, can be applied to signals representing local field potentials (LFPs) evoked by sensory stimulations and utilizes their trial-to-trial variability. A set of single trial samples of a given post-stimulus latency from consecutive evoked potentials (EPs) recorded at a given site is correlated with such sets for all other latencies and recording sites. The results of this computation reveal how neuronal activities at various sites and latencies correspond to activation of other sites at other latencies. The method was used to investigate the functional connectivity of thalamo-cortical network of somatosensory system in behaving rats at two levels of alertness: habituated and aroused. We analyzed potentials evoked by vibrissal deflections recorded simultaneously from the ventrobasal thalamus and barrel cortex. The cross-trial correlation analysis applied to the early post-stimulus period (<25 ms) showed that the magnitude of the population spike recorded in the thalamus at 5 ms post-stimulus correlated with the cortical activation at 6–13 ms post-stimulus. This correlation value was reduced at 6–9 ms, i.e. at early postsynaptic cortical response, with increased level of the animals’ arousal. Similarly, the aroused state diminished positive thalamo-cortical correlation for subsequent early EP waves, whereas the efficacy of an indirect cortico-fugal inhibition (over 15 ms) did not change significantly. Thus we were able to characterize the state related changes of functional connections within the thalamo-cortical network of behaving animals.
KeywordsLFP Awake rat Vibrissae-barrel system Functional connectivity
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