The Second Spiking Threshold: Dynamics of Laminar Network Spiking in the Visual Cortex

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Most neurons have a threshold separating the silent non-spiking state and the state of producing temporal sequences of spikes. But neurons in vivo also have a second threshold, found recently in granular layer neurons of the primary visual cortex, separating spontaneous ongoing spiking from visually evoked spiking driven by sharp transients. Here we examine whether this second threshold exists outside the granular layer and examine details of transitions between spiking states in ferrets exposed to moving objects. We found the second threshold, separating spiking states evoked by stationary and moving visual stimuli from the spontaneous ongoing spiking state, in all layers and zones of areas 17 and 18 indicating that the second threshold is a property of the network. Spontaneous and evoked spiking, thus can easily be distinguished. In addition, the trajectories of spontaneous ongoing states were slow, frequently changing direction. In single trials, sharp as well as smooth and slow transients transform the trajectories to be outward directed, fast and crossing the threshold to become evoked. Although the speeds of the evolution of the evoked states differ, the same domain of the state space is explored indicating uniformity of the evoked states. All evoked states return to the spontaneous evoked spiking state as in a typical mono-stable dynamical system. In single trials, neither the original spiking rates, nor the temporal evolution in state space could distinguish simple visual scenes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number65
JournalFrontiers in Systems Neuroscience
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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