Coherent and intermittent ensemble oscillations emerge from networks of irregular spiking neurons

J Neurophysiol. 2016 Jan 1;115(1):457-69. doi: 10.1152/jn.00578.2015. Epub 2015 Nov 11.


Local field potential (LFP) recordings from spatially distant cortical circuits reveal episodes of coherent gamma oscillations that are intermittent, and of variable peak frequency and duration. Concurrently, single neuron spiking remains largely irregular and of low rate. The underlying potential mechanisms of this emergent network activity have long been debated. Here we reproduce such intermittent ensemble oscillations in a model network, consisting of excitatory and inhibitory model neurons with the characteristics of regular-spiking (RS) pyramidal neurons, and fast-spiking (FS) and low-threshold spiking (LTS) interneurons. We find that fluctuations in the external inputs trigger reciprocally connected and irregularly spiking RS and FS neurons in episodes of ensemble oscillations, which are terminated by the recruitment of the LTS population with concurrent accumulation of inhibitory conductance in both RS and FS neurons. The model qualitatively reproduces experimentally observed phase drift, oscillation episode duration distributions, variation in the peak frequency, and the concurrent irregular single-neuron spiking at low rate. Furthermore, consistent with previous experimental studies using optogenetic manipulation, periodic activation of FS, but not RS, model neurons causes enhancement of gamma oscillations. In addition, increasing the coupling between two model networks from low to high reveals a transition from independent intermittent oscillations to coherent intermittent oscillations. In conclusion, the model network suggests biologically plausible mechanisms for the generation of episodes of coherent intermittent ensemble oscillations with irregular spiking neurons in cortical circuits.

Keywords: coherence; cortex; intermittent; γ-band oscillation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Gamma Rhythm*
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology