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J Neurosci. 2001 Dec 1;21(23):9478-86.

Gap junctions between interneuron dendrites can enhance synchrony of gamma oscillations in distributed networks.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Birmingham School of Medicine, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom.


Gamma-frequency (30-70 Hz) oscillations in populations of interneurons may be of functional relevance in the brain by virtue of their ability to induce synchronous firing in principal neurons. Such a role would require that neurons, 1 mm or more apart, be able to synchronize their activity, despite the presence of axonal conduction delays and of the limited axonal spread of many interneurons. We showed previously that interneuron doublet firing can help to synchronize gamma oscillations, provided that sufficiently many pyramidal neurons are active; we also suggested that gap junctions, between the axons of principal neurons, could contribute to the long-range synchrony of gamma oscillations induced in the hippocampus by carbachol in vitro. Here we consider interneuron network gamma: that is, gamma oscillations in pharmacologically isolated networks of tonically excited interneurons, with frequency gated by mutual GABA(A) receptor-mediated IPSPs. We provide simulation and electrophysiological evidence that interneuronal gap junctions (presumably dendritic) can enhance the synchrony of such gamma oscillations, in spatially extended interneuron networks. There appears to be a sharp threshold conductance, below which the interneuron dendritic gap junctions do not exert a synchronizing role.

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