Spontaneous Up states in vitro: a single-metric index of the functional maturation and regional differentiation of the cerebral cortex.
Rigas P., Adamos DA., Sigalas C., Tsakanikas P., Laskaris NA., Skaliora I.
Understanding the development and differentiation of the neocortex remains a central focus of neuroscience. While previous studies have examined isolated aspects of cellular and synaptic organization, an integrated functional index of the cortical microcircuit is still lacking. Here we aimed to provide such an index, in the form of spontaneously recurring periods of persistent network activity -or Up states- recorded in mouse cortical slices. These coordinated network dynamics emerge through the orchestrated regulation of multiple cellular and synaptic elements and represent the default activity of the cortical microcircuit. To explore whether spontaneous Up states can capture developmental changes in intracortical networks we obtained local field potential recordings throughout the mouse lifespan. Two independent and complementary methodologies revealed that Up state activity is systematically modified by age, with the largest changes occurring during early development and adolescence. To explore possible regional heterogeneities we also compared the development of Up states in two distinct cortical areas and show that primary somatosensory cortex develops at a faster pace than primary motor cortex. Our findings suggest that in vitro Up states can serve as a functional index of cortical development and differentiation and can provide a baseline for comparing experimental and/or genetic mouse models.