Sequential and efficient neural-population coding of complex task information

Sue Ann Koay, Adam S. Charles, Stephan Y. Thiberge, Carlos D. Brody, David W. Tank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Recent work has highlighted that many types of variables are represented in each neocortical area. How can these many neural representations be organized together without interference and coherently maintained/updated through time? We recorded from excitatory neural populations in posterior cortices as mice performed a complex, dynamic task involving multiple interrelated variables. The neural encoding implied that highly correlated task variables were represented by less-correlated neural population modes, while pairs of neurons exhibited a spectrum of signal correlations. This finding relates to principles of efficient coding, but notably utilizes neural population modes as the encoding unit and suggests partial whitening of task-specific information where different variables are represented with different signal-to-noise levels. Remarkably, this encoding function was multiplexed with sequential neural dynamics yet reliably followed changes in task-variable correlations throughout the trial. We suggest that neural circuits can implement time-dependent encodings in a simple way using random sequential dynamics as a temporal scaffold.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-349.e11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 19 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • complex decision making behavior
  • efficient coding
  • mouse posterior cortex
  • neural population coding
  • neural sequences


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