Research ArticleNEUROSCIENCE

Computing hubs in the hippocampus and cortex

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Science Advances  26 Jun 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 6, eaax4843
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax4843


Neural computation occurs within large neuron networks in the dynamic context of varying brain states. Whether functions are performed by specific subsets of neurons and whether they occur in specific dynamical regimes remain poorly understood. Using high-density recordings in the hippocampus, medial entorhinal, and medial prefrontal cortex of the rat, we identify computing substates where specific computing hub neurons perform well-defined storage and sharing operations in a brain state–dependent manner. We retrieve distinct computing substates within each global brain state, such as REM and nonREM sleep. Half of recorded neurons act as computing hubs in at least one substate, suggesting that functional roles are not hardwired but reassigned at the second time scale. We identify sequences of substates whose temporal organization is dynamic and stands between order and disorder. We propose that global brain states constrain the language of neuronal computations by regulating the syntactic complexity of substate sequences.

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