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Regulating Cortical Oscillations in an Inhibition-Stabilized Network


Understanding the anatomical and functional architecture of the brain is essential for designing neurally inspired intelligent systems. Theoretical and empirical studies suggest a role for narrowband oscillations in shaping the functional architecture of the brain through their role in coding and communication of information. Such oscillations are ubiquitous signals in the electrical activity recorded from the brain. In the cortex, oscillations detected in the gamma range (30-80 Hz) are modulated by behavioral states and sensory features in complex ways. How is this regulation achieved? Although several underlying principles for the genesis of these oscillations have been proposed, a unifying account for their regulation has remained elusive. In a network of excitatory and inhibitory neurons operating in an inhibition-stabilized regime, we show that strongly superlinear responses of inhibitory neurons facilitate bidirectional regulation of oscillation frequency and power. In such a network, the balance of drives to the excitatory and inhibitory populations determines how the power and frequency of oscillations are modulated. The model accounts for the puzzling increase in their frequency with the salience of visual stimuli, and a decrease with their size. Oscillations in our model grow stronger as the mean firing level is reduced, accounting for the size dependence of visually evoked gamma rhythms, and suggesting a role for oscillations in improving the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of signals in the brain. Empirically testing such predictions is still challenging, and implementing the proposed coding and communication strategies in neuromorphic systems could assist in our understanding of the biological system.

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