Spike-timing-dependent ensemble encoding by non-classically responsive cortical neurons

Michele N. Insanally, Ioana Carcea, Rachel E. Field, Chris C. Rodgers, Brian DePasquale, Kanaka Rajan, Michael R. DeWeese, Badr F. Albanna, Robert C. Froemke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Neurons recorded in behaving animals often do not discernibly respond to sensory input and are not overtly task-modulated. These non-classically responsive neurons are difficult to interpret and are typically neglected from analysis, confounding attempts to connect neural activity to perception and behavior. Here, we describe a trial-by-trial, spike-timing-based algorithm to reveal the coding capacities of these neurons in auditory and frontal cortex of behaving rats. Classically responsive and non-classically responsive cells contained significant information about sensory stimuli and behavioral decisions. Stimulus category was more accurately represented in frontal cortex than auditory cortex, via ensembles of non-classically responsive cells coordinating the behavioral meaning of spike timings on correct but not error trials. This unbiased approach allows the contribution of all recorded neurons - particularly those without obvious task-related, trial-averaged firing rate modulation - to be assessed for behavioral relevance on single trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 28 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


  • behavior
  • computational biology
  • cortex
  • decoding
  • neuroscience
  • rat
  • systems biology


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