A model for cortical activity sequences

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Networks of neurons in the brain, that act on a timescale of milliseconds, can intrinsically generate reliable sequential activity on slow behavioral timescales of seconds. A possible mechanism for intrinsic sequence generation based on theoretical evidence points to distance-dependent connectivity with correlated spatial asymmetries, establishing an anisotropic network connectivity. We show that networks with such correlated asymmetric connectivity as well as symmetric distance-dependent connectivity match experimental data of connectivity motifs as well as neuronal activity statistics from rat and monkey cortex. At the network level, however, only the correlated asymmetric connectivity pattern generates spatiotemporal activity sequences on behaviorally relevant timescales, while the symmetric connectivity results in transient but stationary spatial bumps of neural activity. Our results strongly support the role of correlated asymmetries in connectivity for the generation of sequential activity in neural networks.

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