To compare the spiking rate before and during N2O administration, the neural data for Monkey N were combined for both days (but the neural data of each monkey were kept separate). The pre-N2O data included the 15 min period before N2O administration, as this corresponded to the times the monkey was secured in the testing chair without significant motor movements. Pre-N2O multiunits with a spiking rate >2 Hz were included, and the spikes in the remaining channels were sorted. The pre-N2O spiking rate was then determined by averaging across all sorted multiunits. To include only spontaneous activity, only sorted units with firing rate >0.5 Hz were analyzed. To compute the spiking rate during N2O, we averaged the multiunits during the first 45 min of N2O (using the same multiunits used in the pre-N2O time period). A period of 45 min was chosen to keep the time under N2O the same for each day when computing the spiking rate.

Since times of observed monkey movements were not recorded when finger brushings were not being performed, an automated algorithm was used to flag dense neural activity that likely corresponded to monkey movement. When the number of recorded spikes within a 3 ms time bin exceeded a prespecified threshold, the surrounding 1 s interval was excluded from the spike rate calculation. This threshold was empirically determined by reviewing raster plots by visual inspection to ensure that these periods of dense neural activity were excluded. The distribution of sorted multiunits was plotted as a two-dimensional histogram of firing rate change during N2O and pre-N2O firing rates. To compute the trends in spiking rate versus time, the spiking rate was calculated as a running average over 5 min.

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