UMMS Affiliation

Department of Neurobiology; Lois Lab

Publication Date


Document Type



Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Time-locked sequences of neural activity can be found throughout the vertebrate forebrain in various species and behavioral contexts. From "time cells" in the hippocampus of rodents to cortical activity controlling movement, temporal sequence generation is integral to many forms of learned behavior. However, the mechanisms underlying sequence generation are not well known. Here, we describe a spatial and temporal organization of the songbird premotor cortical microcircuit that supports sparse sequences of neural activity. Multi-channel electrophysiology and calcium imaging reveal that neural activity in premotor cortex is correlated with a length scale of 100 microm. Within this length scale, basal-ganglia-projecting excitatory neurons, on average, fire at a specific phase of a local 30 Hz network rhythm. These results show that premotor cortical activity is inhomogeneous in time and space, and that a mesoscopic dynamical pattern underlies the generation of the neural sequences controlling song.

Rights and Permissions

Copyright: © 2015 Markowitz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



PLoS Biol. 2015 Jun 3;13(6):e1002158. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002158. eCollection 2015. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

PLoS biology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



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