Gamma frequency rhythms have been implicated in numerous studies for their role in healthy and abnormal brain function. The frequency band has been described to encompass as broad a range as 30-150 Hz. Crucial to understanding the role of gamma in brain function is an identification of the underlying neural mechanisms, which is particularly difficult in the absence of invasive recordings in macroscopic human signals such as those from magnetoencephalography (MEG) and electroencephalography (EEG). Here, we studied features of current dipole (CD) signals from two distinct mechanisms of gamma generation, using a computational model of a laminar cortical circuit designed specifically to simulate CDs in a biophysically principled manner (Jones et al., 2007, 2009). We simulated spiking pyramidal interneuronal gamma (PING) whose period is regulated by the decay time constant of GABAA-mediated synaptic inhibition and also subthreshold gamma driven by gamma-periodic exogenous excitatory synaptic drive. Our model predicts distinguishable CD features created by spiking PING compared to subthreshold driven gamma that can help to disambiguate mechanisms of gamma oscillations in human signals. We found that gamma rhythms in neocortical layer 5 can obscure a simultaneous, independent gamma in layer 2/3. Further, we arrived at a novel interpretation of the origin of high gamma frequency rhythms (100-150 Hz), showing that they emerged from a specific temporal feature of CDs associated with single cycles of PING activity and did not reflect a separate rhythmic process. Last we show that the emergence of observable subthreshold gamma required highly coherent exogenous drive. Our results are the first to demonstrate features of gamma oscillations in human current source signals that distinguish cellular and circuit level mechanisms of these rhythms and may help to guide understanding of their functional role.
Keywords: computational neuroscience; electroencephalography (EEG); gamma oscillations; laminar neocortex; magnetoencephalography (MEG); pyramidal interneuronal gamma.