Cortex-wide dynamics of intrinsic electrical activities: Propagating waves and their interactions

Yuqi Liang, Chenchen Song, Mianxin Liu, Pulin Gong, Changsong Zhou*, Thomas Knöpfel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Cortical circuits generate patterned activities that reflect intrinsic brain dynamics that lay the foundation for any, including stimuli-evoked, cognition and behavior. However, the spatiotemporal organization properties and principles of this intrinsic activity have only been partially elucidated because of previous poor resolution of experimental data and limited analysis methods. Here we investigated continuous wave patterns in the 0.5-4 Hz (delta band) frequency range on data from high-spatiotemporal resolution optical voltage imaging of the upper cortical layers in anesthetized mice. Waves of population activities propagate in heterogeneous directions to coordinate neuronal activities between different brain regions. The complex wave patterns show characteristics of both stereotypy and variety. The location and type of wave patterns determine the dynamical evolution when different waves interact with each other. Local wave patterns of source, sink, or saddle emerge at preferred spatial locations. Specifically, "source" patterns are predominantly found in cortical regions with low multimodal hierarchy such as the primary somatosensory cortex. Our findings reveal principles that govern the spatiotemporal dynamics of spontaneous cortical activities and associate them with the structural architecture across the cortex. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Intrinsic brain activities, as opposed to external stimulus-evoked responses, have increasingly gained attention, but it remains unclear how these intrinsic activities are spatiotemporally organized at the cortex-wide scale. By taking advantage of the high spatiotemporal resolution of optical voltage imaging, we identified five wave pattern types, and revealed the organization properties of different wave patterns and the dynamical mechanisms when they interact with each other. Moreover, we found a relationship between the emergence probability of local wave patterns and the multimodal structure hierarchy across cortical areas. Our findings reveal the principles of spatiotemporal wave dynamics of spontaneous activities and associate them with the underlying hierarchical architecture across the cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3665-3678
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number16
Early online date16 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Cortex
  • Dynamics
  • Fluorescence
  • GEVI
  • Imaging
  • Mouse


Dive into the research topics of 'Cortex-wide dynamics of intrinsic electrical activities: Propagating waves and their interactions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this