Rhythm generation through period concatenation in rat somatosensory cortex

PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 Sep 5;4(9):e1000169. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000169.


Rhythmic voltage oscillations resulting from the summed activity of neuronal populations occur in many nervous systems. Contemporary observations suggest that coexistent oscillations interact and, in time, may switch in dominance. We recently reported an example of these interactions recorded from in vitro preparations of rat somatosensory cortex. We found that following an initial interval of coexistent gamma ( approximately 25 ms period) and beta2 ( approximately 40 ms period) rhythms in the superficial and deep cortical layers, respectively, a transition to a synchronous beta1 ( approximately 65 ms period) rhythm in all cortical layers occurred. We proposed that the switch to beta1 activity resulted from the novel mechanism of period concatenation of the faster rhythms: gamma period (25 ms)+beta2 period (40 ms) = beta1 period (65 ms). In this article, we investigate in greater detail the fundamental mechanisms of the beta1 rhythm. To do so we describe additional in vitro experiments that constrain a biologically realistic, yet simplified, computational model of the activity. We use the model to suggest that the dynamic building blocks (or motifs) of the gamma and beta2 rhythms combine to produce a beta1 oscillation that exhibits cross-frequency interactions. Through the combined approach of in vitro experiments and mathematical modeling we isolate the specific components that promote or destroy each rhythm. We propose that mechanisms vital to establishing the beta1 oscillation include strengthened connections between a population of deep layer intrinsically bursting cells and a transition from antidromic to orthodromic spike generation in these cells. We conclude that neural activity in the superficial and deep cortical layers may temporally combine to generate a slower oscillation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computational Biology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists / administration & dosage
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kainic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Periodicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Somatosensory Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / drug effects
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Kainic Acid