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Int J Psychophysiol. 2007 Apr;64(1):53-61. Epub 2006 Sep 25.

Therapeutic modulation of synaptic connectivity with desynchronizing brain stimulation.

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Institute for Medicine, Research Centre Jülich, Leo-Brand-Street, 52425 Jülich, Germany.


In a modeling study, we show that synaptic connectivity can effectively be reshaped by an appropriate modulation of neuronal dynamics. To this end, we incorporate synaptic plasticity with symmetric spike-timing characteristics into a population of bursting neurons, which are interacting via chemical synapses. Under spontaneous conditions, qualitatively different stable dynamical states may coexist. We observe states characterized either by pathological synchrony or by uncorrelated activity. Suitably designed stimulation protocols enable to shift the neuronal population from one dynamical state to another. Due to low-frequency periodic pulse train stimulation, the population learns pathologically strong interactions, as known from the kindling phenomenon. In contrast, desynchronizing stimulation, e.g., multi-site coordinated reset stimulation, enables the network to unlearn pathologically strong synaptic interactions, so that a powerful long-term anti-kindling is achieved. We demonstrate that anti-kindling can be achieved even with weak and/or short desynchronizing stimuli, which are not able to cause a complete desynchronization in the course of the stimulation. Our results show that desynchronizing stimulation may serve as a novel curative approach for the therapy of neurological diseases connected with pathological cerebral synchrony.

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