Predictive ensemble decoding of somatosensory-guided behaviour
The brain processes information in a highly distributed, parallel manner in three-dimensional space. At the neuronal population level, information is processed in spatially separate clusters of neurons, which, in the neocortex, appear to be organised into canonical microcircuits. Whether neuronal activity is dynamically allocated to different microcircuits remains an open question. To address this question, we developed a new microscope that allows us to optically record the three-dimensional activity profile of microcircuits with single neuron resolution in awake, behaving mice. Using genetically encoded calcium indicators, we examined the activity in vibrissal primary sensory cortex in mice performing detection and discrimination tasks with their whiskers. We find that microcircuit activity dynamically remaps during tasks, allocating different neuronal populations to task-dependent variables. Our data offers insights into how sparse, distributed neural codes are generated in the vibrissal primary sensory cortex on a trial-by-trial basis.