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Published May 2006 | Supplemental Material + Published
Journal Article Open

Persistent dynamic attractors in activity patterns of cultured neuronal networks


Three remarkable features of the nervous system—complex spatiotemporal patterns, oscillations, and persistent activity—are fundamental to such diverse functions as stereotypical motor behavior, working memory, and awareness. Here we report that cultured cortical networks spontaneously generate a hierarchical structure of periodic activity with a strongly stereotyped population-wide spatiotemporal structure demonstrating all three fundamental properties in a recurring pattern. During these "superbursts," the firing sequence of the culture periodically converges to a dynamic attractor orbit. Precursors of oscillations and persistent activity have previously been reported as intrinsic properties of the neurons. However, complex spatiotemporal patterns that are coordinated in a large population of neurons and persist over several hours—and thus are capable of representing and preserving information—cannot be explained by known oscillatory properties of isolated neurons. Instead, the complexity of the observed spatiotemporal patterns implies large-scale self-organization of neurons interacting in a precise temporal order even in vitro, in cultures usually considered to have random connectivity.

Additional Information

©2006 The American Physical Society (Received 31 January 2006; published 11 May 2006) We thank Jerry Pine for useful discussions, and Sheri McKinney for technical assistance with cell culture. This work was partially supported by Grants Nos. NS38628 and NS44134 from NINDS, and EB00786 from NIBIB, and by the Whitaker Foundation and the NSF Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.

Attached Files

Published - WAGpre06.pdf

Supplemental Material - WAGpre06Movie1.mov

Supplemental Material - WAGpre06README.txt


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