Cortical activity patterns occupy a small subset of possible network states. If this is due to intrinsic network properties, microstimulation of sensory cortex should evoke activity patterns resembling those observed during natural sensory input. Here, we use optical microstimulation of virally transfected layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons in the mouse primary vibrissal somatosensory cortex to compare artificially evoked activity with natural activity evoked by whisker touch and movement (“whisking”). We find that photostimulation engages touch- but not whisking-responsive neurons more than expected by chance. Neurons that respond to photostimulation and touch or to touch alone exhibit higher spontaneous pairwise correlations than purely photoresponsive neurons. Exposure to several days of simultaneous touch and optogenetic stimulation raises both overlap and spontaneous activity correlations among touch and photoresponsive neurons. We thus find that cortical microstimulation engages existing cortical representations and that repeated co-presentation of natural and artificial stimulation enhances this effect.
- barrel cortex
- cortical plasticity
- pattern completion
- recurrent networks
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)