Broad-band gamma from highly synchronous activity?

Visual stimulation elicits neuronal responses in visual cortex. When the contrast of the used stimuli increases, the power of this induced activity is boosted over a broad frequency range (30–100 Hz), called the ‘‘gamma band.’’ However, previous models trying to explain contrast-related power enhancements using synchronous oscillations failed to reproduce the observed spectra because they originated unrealistically sharp spectral peaks. In our PLoS Computational Biology article, we propose a solution to reconcile synchronous oscillations with broad-band power spectra.

We argue here that, thanks to the interaction between neuronal populations at different depths in the cortical tissue, the induced oscillatory responses are synchronous, but, at the same time, chaotic. The chaotic nature of the dynamics makes it possible to have broad-band power spectra together with synchrony. Our modeling study allows us formulating qualitative experimental predictions that provide a potential test for our theory. We predict that if the interactions between cortical layers are suppressed, for instance by inactivating neurons in deep layers, the induced responses might become more regular and narrow isolated peaks might develop in their power spectra.

To know more:

  • D. Battaglia and D. Hansel, Synchronous chaos and broad band gamma rhythm in a minimal multi-layer model of striate cortex, PLoS Computational Biology 7(10):e1002176 (2011).