Synchronicity of excitatory inputs drives hippocampal networks to distinct oscillatory patterns

Hippocampus. 2020 Oct;30(10):1044-1057. doi: 10.1002/hipo.23214. Epub 2020 May 15.


The rodent hippocampus expresses a variety of neuronal network oscillations depending on the behavioral state of the animal. Locomotion and active exploration are accompanied by theta-nested gamma oscillations while resting states and slow-wave sleep are dominated by intermittent sharp wave-ripple complexes. It is believed that gamma rhythms create a framework for efficient acquisition of information whereas sharp wave-ripples are thought to be involved in consolidation and retrieval of memory. While not strictly mutually exclusive, one of the two patterns usually dominates in a given behavioral state. Here we explore how different input patterns induce either of the two network states, using an optogenetic stimulation approach in hippocampal brain slices of mice. We report that the pattern of the evoked oscillation depends strongly on the initial synchrony of activation of excitatory cells within CA3. Short, synchronous activation favors the emergence of sharp wave-ripple complexes while persistent but less synchronous activity-as typical for sensory input during exploratory behavior-supports the generation of gamma oscillations. This dichotomy is reflected by different degrees of synchrony of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic currents within these two states. Importantly, the induction of these two fundamental network patterns does not depend on the presence of any neuromodulatory transmitter like acetylcholine, but is merely based on a different synchrony in the initial activation pattern.

Keywords: memory; oscillation; sharp wave-ripple; synchronization; theta-nested gamma.