Yuste R - Cossart R - Yaksi E




Neuronal ensembles, defined as groups of neurons displaying recurring patterns of coordinated activity, represent an intermediate functional level between individual neurons and brain areas. Novel methods to measure and optically manipulate the activity of neuronal populations have provided evidence of ensembles in the neocortex and hippocampus. Ensembles can be activated intrinsically or in response to sensory stimuli and play a causal role in perception and behavior. Here we review ensemble phenomenology, developmental origin, biophysical and synaptic mechanisms, and potential functional roles across different brain areas and species, including humans. As modular units of neural circuits, ensembles could provide a mechanistic underpinning of fundamental brain processes, including neural coding, motor planning, decision-making, learning, and adaptability.

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