Volume 14 Supplement 1
Fine temporal structure of neural synchronization
© Ahn and Rubchinsky; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Published: 8 July 2013
While neural synchronization is widely observed in neuroscience, neural oscillations are rarely in perfect synchrony and go in and out of phase in time. Since this synchrony is not perfect, the same synchrony strength may be achieved with markedly different temporal patterns of activity (roughly speaking oscillations may go out of the phase-locked state for many short episodes or few long episodes). Recent developments in the time-series analysis allowed for the investigation of the temporal variations of phase-locking with a high temporal resolution . Provided that there is some average level of phase-locking is present, one can follow oscillations from cycle to cycle and to observe if the phase difference is close to the preferred phase lag or not .
Recent study  of neural oscillations in basal ganglia in Parkinson's disease revealed the patterning of neural phase-locking: the synchronized state was interrupted by numerous but mostly short desynchronization states.
Similar temporal patterning of synchrony in different brain areas in different states may suggest that i) this type of patterning is a generic phenomenon in the brain, ii) it may have some functional advantages for oscillating neural networks receiving, processing, and transmitting information, iii) it may be grounded in some general properties of neuronal networks calling for the development of appropriate nonlinear dynamical theory.
To further investigate these conjectures we numerically studied a system of two and three coupled simple neuronal models (of Morris-Lecar type) and showed that fast kinetic of ionic conductances leads to the emergence of short desynchronized events when the coupling strength is below the full synchronization threshold. We further show that coupled neural oscillators exhibiting short desynchronizations require smaller values of synaptic connections between them of weaker common synaptic input to induce specified levels of synchrony strength than oscillators of the same frequency exhibiting more prolong desynchronizations.
The results may suggests that whenever a (partially) synchronous cell assembly must be formed to facilitate some function, short desynchronization dynamics may allow for efficient formation and break-up of such an assembly.
This study was supported by NIH grant R01NS067200 (NSF/NIH CRCNS program).
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