I’m giving a talk at the CNS meeting workshops in Quebec City, Canada, on July 31, as part of the workshop on “Large-scale brain structure and dynamics”. My title is: A hierarchy of intrinsic timescales across primate cortex. I will present a recent project in which I collaborated with electrophysiologists in six labs, combining data analysis and computational modeling to explore the neural circuit basis of specialized function across cortical areas. My abstract is below:
Specialization and hierarchy are organizing principles for the large-scale structure of primate cortex, yet there is little direct evidence that cortical areas are specialized in the temporal domain. We measured timescales of intrinsic fluctuations in spiking activity across areas, and found a hierarchical ordering, with sensory areas exhibiting shorter timescales and prefrontal areas exhibiting longer timescales. We measured these intrinsic timescales from temporal autocorrelations of single-neuron spike trains recorded across multiple areas of monkey cortex during the foreperiod of cognitive tasks. Intrinsic timescales further are correlated with neural fluctuations over longer, behaviorally relevant timescales. In computational models of cortical circuits, strengthening recurrent structure increases the intrinsic timescale, linking physiological timescales to specialization of microcircuitry and function. We propose that a hierarchical gradient of intrinsic timescales across cortical areas reflects specialization of local circuit properties for diverse computations.