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  1. Rubin, Jonathan (Ed.)
    Theta and gamma rhythms and their cross-frequency coupling play critical roles in perception, attention, learning, and memory. Available data suggest that forebrain acetylcholine (ACh) signaling promotes theta-gamma coupling, although the mechanism has not been identified. Recent evidence suggests that cholinergic signaling is both temporally and spatially constrained, in contrast to the traditional notion of slow, spatially homogeneous, and diffuse neuromodulation. Here, we find that spatially constrained cholinergic stimulation can generate theta-modulated gamma rhythms. Using biophysically-based excitatory-inhibitory (E-I) neural network models, we simulate the effects of ACh on neural excitability by varying the conductance of a muscarinic receptor-regulated K + current. In E-I networks with local excitatory connectivity and global inhibitory connectivity, we demonstrate that theta-gamma-coupled firing patterns emerge in ACh modulated network regions. Stable gamma-modulated firing arises within regions with high ACh signaling, while theta or mixed theta-gamma activity occurs at the peripheries of these regions. High gamma activity also alternates between different high-ACh regions, at theta frequency. Our results are the first to indicate a causal role for spatially heterogenous ACh signaling in the emergence of localized theta-gamma rhythmicity. Our findings also provide novel insights into mechanisms by which ACh signaling supports the brain region-specific attentional processing of sensory information. 
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  2. Abstract

    Recent work has explored spatiotemporal relationships between excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) signaling within neural networks, and the effect of these relationships on network activity patterns. Data from these studies have indicated that excitation and inhibition are maintained at a similar level across long time periods and that excitatory and inhibitory currents may be tightly synchronized. Disruption of this balance—leading to an aberrantE/Iratio—is implicated in various brain pathologies. However, a thorough characterization of the relationship betweenEandIcurrents in experimental settings is largely impossible, due to their tight regulation at multiple cellular and network levels. Here, we use biophysical neural network models to investigate the emergence and properties of balanced states by heterogeneous mechanisms. Our results show that a network can homeostatically regulate theE/Iratio through interactions among multiple cellular and network factors, including average firing rates, synaptic weights and average neural depolarization levels in excitatory/inhibitory populations. Complex and competing interactions between firing rates and depolarization levels allow these factors to alternately dominate network dynamics in different synaptic weight regimes. This leads to the emergence of distinct mechanisms responsible for determining a balanced state and its dynamical correlate. Our analysis provides a comprehensive picture of howE/Iratio changes when manipulating specific network properties, and identifies the mechanisms regulatingE/Ibalance. These results provide a framework to explain the diverse, and in some cases, contradictory experimental observations on theE/Istate in different brain states and conditions.

     
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