Research ArticleNEUROPHYSIOLOGY

Multiplexed oscillations and phase rate coding in the basal forebrain

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Science Advances  01 Aug 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 8, eaar3230
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3230

Abstract

Complex behaviors demand temporal coordination among functionally distinct brain regions. The basal forebrain’s afferent and efferent structure suggests a capacity for mediating this coordination at a large scale. During performance of a spatial orientation task, synaptic activity in this region was dominated by four amplitude-independent oscillations temporally organized by the phase of the slowest, a theta-frequency rhythm. Oscillation amplitudes were also organized by task epoch and positively correlated to the task-related modulation of individual neuron firing rates. For many neurons, spiking was temporally organized through phase precession against theta band field potential oscillations. Theta phase precession advanced in parallel to task progression, rather than absolute spatial location or time. Together, the findings reveal a process by which associative brain regions can integrate independent oscillatory inputs and transform them into sequence-specific, rate-coded outputs that are adaptive to the pace with which organisms interact with their environment.

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