April 14, 2021

Spontaneous neural synchrony links intrinsic spinal sensory and motor networks during unconsciousness

Purposeful functional connectivity during unconsciousness is a defining feature of supraspinal networks. However, its generalizability to intrinsic spinal networks remains incompletely understood. Previously, Barry et al. (2014) used fMRI to reveal bilateral resting state functional connectivity within sensory-dominant and, separately, motor-dominant regions of the spinal cord. Here, we record spike trains from large populations of spinal interneurons in vivo and demonstrate that spontaneous functional connectivity also links sensory- and motor-dominant regions during unconsciousness. The spatiotemporal patterns of connectivity could not be explained by latent afferent activity or by populations of interconnected neurons spiking randomly. We also document connection latencies compatible with mono- and di-synaptic interactions and putative excitatory and inhibitory connections. The observed activity is consistent with a network policy in which salient, experience-dependent patterns of neural transmission introduced during behavior or by injury/disease are reactivated during unconsciousness. Such a spinal replay mechanism could shape circuit-level connectivity and ultimately behavior.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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