Ito H, Maldonado PE, Gray CM (2010). Dynamics of stimulus-evoked spike timing correlations in the cat lateral geniculate nucleus. J Neurophysiology, 104:3276-92.

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Precisely synchronized neuronal activity has been commonly observed in the mammalian visual pathway. Spike timing correlations in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) often take the form of phase synchronized oscillations in the high gamma frequency range. To study the relations between oscillatory activity, synchrony, and their time-dependent properties, we recorded activity from multiple single units in the cat LGN under stimulation by stationary spots of light. Autocorrelation analysis showed that approximately one third of the cells exhibited oscillatory firing with a mean frequency ∼80 Hz. Cross-correlation analysis showed that 30% of unit pairs showed significant synchronization, and 61% of these pairs consisted of synchronous oscillations. Cross-correlation analysis assumes that synchronous firing is stationary and maintained throughout the period of stimulation. We tested this assumption by applying unitary events analysis (UEA). We found that UEA was more sensitive to weak and transient synchrony than cross-correlation analysis and detected a higher incidence (49% of cell pairs) of significant synchrony (unitary events). In many unit pairs, the unitary events were optimally characterized at a bin width of 1 ms, indicating that neural synchrony has a high degree of temporal precision. We also found that approximately one half of the unit pairs showed nonstationary changes in synchrony that could not be predicted by the modulation of firing rates. Population statistics showed that the onset of synchrony between LGN cells occurred significantly later than that observed between retinal afferents and LGN cells. The synchrony detected among unit pairs recorded on separate tetrodes tended to be more transient and have a later onset than that observed between adjacent units. These findings show that stimulus-evoked synchronous activity within the LGN is often rhythmic, highly nonstationary, and modulated by endogenous processes that are not tightly correlated with firing rate.