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Epilepsy Res. 2009 Mar;84(1):42-55. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2008.12.005. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Phase-dependent stimulation effects on bursting activity in a neural network cortical simulation.

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Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street CA 138F, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



A neural network simulation with realistic cortical architecture has been used to study synchronized bursting as a seizure representation. This model has the property that bursting epochs arise and cease spontaneously, and bursting epochs can be induced by external stimulation. We have used this simulation to study the time-frequency properties of the evolving bursting activity, as well as effects due to network stimulation.


The model represents a cortical region of 1.6 mm x 1.6mm, and includes seven neuron classes organized by cortical layer, inhibitory or excitatory properties, and electrophysiological characteristics. There are a total of 65,536 modeled single compartment neurons that operate according to a version of Hodgkin-Huxley dynamics. The intercellular wiring is based on histological studies and our previous modeling efforts.


The bursting phase is characterized by a flat frequency spectrum. Stimulation pulses are applied to this modeled network, with an electric field provided by a 1mm radius circular electrode represented mathematically in the simulation. A phase dependence to the post-stimulation quiescence is demonstrated, with local relative maxima in efficacy occurring before or during the network depolarization phase in the underlying activity. Brief periods of network insensitivity to stimulation are also demonstrated. The phase dependence was irregular and did not reach statistical significance when averaged over the full 2.5s of simulated bursting investigated. This result provides comparison with previous in vivo studies which have also demonstrated increased efficacy of stimulation when pulses are applied at the peak of the local field potential during cortical after discharges. The network bursting is synchronous when comparing the different neuron classes represented up to an uncertainty of 10 ms. Studies performed with an excitatory chandelier cell component demonstrated increased synchronous bursting in the model, as predicted from experimental work.


This large-scale multi-neuron neural network simulation reproduces many aspects of evolving cortical bursting behavior as well as the timing-dependent effects of electrical stimulation on that bursting.

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