Cortical processing of sensory stimuli typically recruits multiple areas, but how each area dynamically incorporates activity from other areas is not well understood. We investigated interactions between cortical columns of bilateral primary sensory regions (S1s) in rats by recording local field potentials and multi-unit activity simultaneously in both S1s with electrodes positioned at each cortical layer. Using dynamic connectivity analysis based on Granger-causal modeling, we found that, shortly after whisker stimulation (< 10 ms), contralateral S1 (cS1) already relays activity to granular and infragranular layers of S1 in the other hemisphere, after which cS1 shows a pattern of within-column interactions that directs activity upwards toward superficial layers. This pattern of predominant upward driving was also observed in S1 ipsilateral to stimulation, but at longer latencies. In addition, we found that interactions between the two S1s most strongly target granular and infragranular layers. Taken together, the results suggest a possible mechanism for how cortical columns integrate local and large-scale neocortical computation by relaying information from deeper layers to local processing in superficial layers.
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