Introduction: Firing rate (FR) and population coupling (PC) are intrinsic properties of cortical neurons. Neurons with different FR and PC have diverse excitability to stimulation, tuning curve, and synaptic plasticity. Therefore, investigation of the effect of anesthesia on neurons with different FR and PC would be important to understand state-dependent information processing in neuronal circuits. Methods: To test how anesthesia affects neurons with diverse PC and FR, we measured single-unit activities in deep layers of primary visual cortex at three levels of anesthesia with desflurane and in wakefulness.
Based on PC and FR in wakefulness, neurons were classified into three distinct groups: high PC-high FR (HPHF), low PC-high FR (LPHF), and low PC-low FR (LPLF) neurons. Results: Applying repeated light flashes as visual stimuli, HPHF neurons showed the strongest early response (FR at 20-150ms post-stimulus) among the three groups, whereas the response of LPHF neurons persisted longest (up to 440ms). Anesthesia profoundly altered PC and FR, and differently affected the three neuron groups: (i) PC and FR became strongly correlated suppressing population-independent spike activity; (ii) Pairwise correlation of spikes between neurons could be predicted by a PC-based raster model suggesting uniform neuron-to-neuron coupling; (iii) Contrary to evoked-potential studies under anesthesia, the flash-induced early response of HPHF neurons was attenuated, and their spike timing was split and delayed; (iv) Late response (FR at 200-400ms post-stimulus) was suppressed both in HPHF and LPHF neurons. Conclusions: Anesthetic-induced association between PC and FR suggests reduced information content in the neural circuit. Altered response of HPHF neurons to visual stimuli suggests that anesthesia interferes with conscious sensory processing in primary sensory cortex.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience