neural coding of behavior: evidence for precise timing of spikes ?

Mark Laubach laubach at
Mon Dec 4 02:27:24 EST 1995

Does anyone know of any study, published or unpublished, that shows
that the precise timing of action potentials encodes information in
the CNS?

Specifically, I am interested in studies that used behaving subjects,
not reduced preparations.

My own search of the literature indicates that there is no evidence
for precise timing of spikes as a neural code in awake, behaving
subjects.  Rather, those who have searched for such coding have
instead found that local changes in firing rate, not the precise
temporal pattern of spikes, may serve as a code for environmental
stimuli, movements, task contingiencies, etc. (e.g., Richmond's work
on visual cortex).  I know that some (e.g., Abeles) have reported that
precise spike patterns across small ensembles of neurons can occur in
behaving subjects, but have these patterns been shown to "be good for
anything" with regard to the subject's performance of the  task?

Thanks in advance for any info.

Mark Laubach
Wake Forest University

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