Spontaneous propagation of spiking within the local neocortical circuits of mature primary sensory areas is highly nonrandom, engaging specific sets of interconnected and functionally related neurons. These spontaneous activations promise insight into neocortical structure and function, but their properties in the first 2 wk of perinatal development are incompletely characterized. Previously, we have found that there is a minimal numerical sample, on the order of 400 cells, necessary to fully capture mature neocortical circuit dynamics. Therefore we maximized our numerical sample by using two-photon calcium imaging to observe spontaneous activity in populations of up to 1,062 neurons spanning multiple columns and layers in 52 acute coronal slices of mouse neocortex at each day from postnatal day (PND) 3 to PND 15. Slices contained either primary auditory cortex (A1) or somatosensory barrel field (S1BF), which allowed us to compare sensory modalities with markedly different developmental timelines. Between PND 3 and PND 8, populations in both areas exhibited activations of anatomically compact subgroups on the order of dozens of cells. Between PND 9 and PND 13, the spatiotemporal structure of the activity diversified to include spatially distributed activations encompassing hundreds of cells. Sparse activations covering the entire field of view dominated in slices taken on or after PND 14. These and other findings demonstrate that the developmental progression of spontaneous activations from active local modules in the first postnatal week to sparse, intermingled groups of neurons at the beginning of the third postnatal week generalizes across primary sensory areas, consistent with an intrinsic developmental trajectory independent of sensory input.
- spontaneous activity
- cortical waves
- calcium imaging
- postnatal development
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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