The functional consequences of cortical circuit abnormalities on gamma oscillations in schizophrenia: insights from computational modeling

Front Hum Neurosci. 2009 Oct 20:3:33. doi: 10.3389/neuro.09.033.2009. eCollection 2009.


Schizophrenia is characterized by cortical circuit abnormalities, which might be reflected in gamma-frequency (30-100 Hz) oscillations in the electroencephalogram. Here we used a computational model of cortical circuitry to examine the effects that neural circuit abnormalities might have on gamma generation and network excitability. The model network consisted of 1000 leaky integrate-and-fire neurons with realistic connectivity patterns and proportions of neuron types [pyramidal cells (PCs), regular-spiking inhibitory interneurons, and fast-spiking interneurons (FSIs)]. The network produced a gamma oscillation when driven by noise input. We simulated reductions in: (1) recurrent excitatory inputs to PCs; (2) both excitatory and inhibitory inputs to PCs; (3) all possible connections between cells; (4) reduced inhibitory output from FSIs; and (5) reduced NMDA input to FSIs. Reducing all types of synaptic connectivity sharply reduced gamma power and phase synchrony. Network excitability was reduced when recurrent excitatory connections were deleted, but the network showed disinhibition effects when inhibitory connections were deleted. Reducing FSI output impaired gamma generation to a lesser degree than reducing synaptic connectivity, and increased network excitability. Reducing FSI NMDA input also increased network excitability, but increased gamma power. The results of this study suggest that a multimodal approach, combining non-invasive neurophysiological and structural measures, might be able to distinguish between different neural circuit abnormalities in schizophrenia patients. Computational modeling may help to bridge the gaps between post-mortem studies, animal models, and experimental data in humans, and facilitate the development of new therapies for schizophrenia and neuropsychiatric disorders in general.

Keywords: computational model; cortical excitability; gamma oscillation; schizophrenia.