Temporally precise cortical firing patterns are associated with distinct action segments

Tomer Shmiel, Rotem Drori, Oren Shmiel, Yoram Ben-Shaul, Zoltan Nadasdy, Moshe Shemesh, Mina Teicher, Moshe Abeles*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Despite many reports indicating the existence of precise firing sequences in cortical activity, serious objections have been raised regarding the statistics used to detect them and the relations of these sequences to behavior. We show that in behaving monkeys, pairs of spikes from different neurons tend to prefer certain time delays when measured in relation to a specific behavior. Single-unit activity was recorded from eight microelectrodes inserted into the motor and premotor cortices of two monkeys while they were performing continuous drawinglike hand movements. Repeated scribbling paths, termed drawing components, were extracted by data-mining techniques. The set of the least predictable relations between drawing components and pairs of neurons was determined and represented by one statistic termed the relations score. The chance probability of the relations score was evaluated by teetering the spike times: 1,000 surrogates were generated by randomly teetering the original time of each spike in a small window. In nine of 13 experimental days the precision was better than 12 ms and, in the best case, spike precision reached 0.5 ms.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2645-2652
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2006


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