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A major factor involved in providing closed loop feedback for control of neural function is to understand how neural ensembles encode online information critical to the final behavioral endpoint. This issue was directly assessed in rats performing a short-term delay memory task in which successful encoding of task information is dependent upon specific spatio-temporal firing patterns recorded from ensembles of CA3 and CA1 hippocampal neurons. Such patterns, extracted by a specially designed nonlinear multi-input multi-output (MIMO) nonlinear mathematical model, were used to predict successful performance online via a closed loop paradigm which regulated trial difficulty (time of retention) as a function of the “strength” of stimulus encoding. The significance of the MIMO model as a neural prosthesis has been demonstrated by substituting trains of electrical stimulation pulses to mimic these same ensemble firing patterns. This feature was used repeatedly to vary “normal” encoding as a means of understanding how neural ensembles can be “tuned” to mimic the inherent process of selecting codes of different strength and functional specificity. The capacity to enhance and tune hippocampal encoding via MIMO model detection and insertion of critical ensemble firing patterns shown here provides the basis for possible extension to other disrupted brain circuitry.
Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:20 , Issue: 4 )
Date of Publication: July 2012