Princeton University, Princeton NJ

©2019 by Buschman Lab

Low-Dimensional Spatio-Temporal Dynamics Underlie Cortex-Wide Neural Activity

MacDowell CJ and Buschman TJ

Under Review; Available on bioRxiv

Cognition arises from the dynamic flow of neural activity through the brain. To capture these dynamics, we used mesoscale calcium imaging to record neural activity across the dorsal cortex of awake mice. We found that the large majority of variance in cortex-wide activity (∼75%) could be explained by a limited set of ∼14 ‘motifs’ of neural activity. Each motif captured a unique spatio-temporal pattern of neural activity across the cortex. These motifs generalized across animals and were seen in multiple behavioral environments. Motif expression differed across behavioral states and specific motifs were engaged by sensory processing, suggesting the motifs reflect core cortical computations. Together, our results show that cortex-wide neural activity is highly dynamic, but that these dynamics are restricted to a low-dimensional set of motifs, potentially to allow for efficient control of behavior.