Plumes of neuronal activity propagate in three dimensions through the nuclear avian brain
1 Avian Sleep Group, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Eberhard-Gwinner-Strasse 11, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany
2 Cognitive Neurobiology and Helmholtz Institute, Departments of Psychology and Biology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80086, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands
3 Department of Zoology, La Trobe University, Kingsbury Drive, Melbourne VIC 3086, Australia
BMC Biology 2014, 12:16 doi:10.1186/1741-7007-12-16Published: 28 February 2014
In mammals, the slow-oscillations of neuronal membrane potentials (reflected in the electroencephalogram as high-amplitude, slow-waves), which occur during non-rapid eye movement sleep and anesthesia, propagate across the neocortex largely as two-dimensional traveling waves. However, it remains unknown if the traveling nature of slow-waves is unique to the laminar cytoarchitecture and associated computational properties of the neocortex.
We demonstrate that local field potential slow-waves and correlated multiunit activity propagate as complex three-dimensional plumes of neuronal activity through the avian brain, owing to its non-laminar, nuclear neuronal cytoarchitecture.
The traveling nature of slow-waves is not dependent upon the laminar organization of the neocortex, and is unlikely to subserve functions unique to this pattern of neuronal organization. Finally, the three-dimensional geometry of propagating plumes may reflect computational properties not found in mammals that contributed to the evolution of nuclear neuronal organization and complex cognition in birds.