March 1, 2021

A transient postnatal quiescent period precedes emergence of mature cortical dynamics

Mature neural networks synchronize and integrate spatiotemporal activity patterns to support cognition. Emergence of these activity patterns and functions is believed to be developmentally regulated, but the postnatal time course for neural networks to perform complex computations remains unknown. We investigate the progression of large-scale synaptic and cellular activity patterns across development using high spatiotemporal resolution in vivo electrophysiology in immature mice. We reveal that mature cortical processes emerge rapidly and simultaneously after a discrete but volatile transition period at the beginning of the second postnatal week of rodent development. The transition is characterized by relative neural quiescence, after which spatially distributed, temporally precise, and internally organized activity occurs. We demonstrate a similar developmental trajectory in humans, suggesting an evolutionarily conserved mechanism to transition network operation. We hypothesize that this transient quiescent period is a requisite for the subsequent emergence of coordinated cortical networks.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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