Gap junctions and emergent rhythms
Coombes, Stephen and Zachariou, Margarita Gap junctions and emergent rhythms. In: Coherent Behavior in Neuronal Networks. Springer. (Submitted)
Gap junction coupling is ubiquitous in the brain, particularly between the dendritic trees of inhibitory interneurons. Such direct non-synaptic interaction allows for direct electrical communication between cells. Unlike spike-time driven synaptic neural network models, which are event based, any model with gap junctions must necessarily involve a single neuron model that can represent the shape of an action potential. Indeed, not only do neurons communicating via gaps feel super-threshold spikes, but they also experience, and respond to, sub-threshold voltage signals. In this chapter we show that the so-called absolute integrate-and-fire model is ideally suited to such studies. At the single neuron level voltage traces for the model may be obtained in closed form, and are shown to mimic those of fast-spiking inhibitory neurons. Interestingly in the presence of a slow spike adaptation current the model is shown to support periodic bursting oscillations. For both tonic and bursting modes the phase response curve can be calculated in closed form. At the network level we focus on global gap junction coupling and show how to analyze the asynchronous firing state in large networks. Importantly, we are able to determine the emergence of non-trivial network rhythms due to strong coupling instabilities. To illustrate the use of our theoretical techniques (particularly the phase-density formalism used to determine stability) we focus on a spike adaptation induced transition from asynchronous tonic activity to synchronous bursting in a gap-junction coupled network.
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