The sentence “In the unrestrained preparation most units showed activity in the absence of intentional stimulation on the part of the observer” opens the results section of David Hubel’s 1959 JPhysiol manuscript titled SINGLE UNIT ACTIVITY IN STRIATE CORTEX OF UNRESTRAINED CATS.
Our group studies single trial representations of sensory input and motor output in local neocortical circuits. Individual neurons are active differently even when the task conditions are identical. In part this is because a large majority of the activity that an experimenter records is not readily assigned to a specific sensory input or motor output – as articulated by Dr. Hubel. Rather than simple input output responses we postulate that many variables are simultaneously represented. Consequently, understanding the real time activity of the interconnected neurons in the brain will mean that we have achieved understanding of the code, and the computations, of neocortex.
To do so we take an explicitly circuit centric, network science based, analytical perspective to recordings of hundreds of neocortical neurons. We complement this work and achieve further understanding by simulating and training spiking neuron networks.