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J Neurosci. 2010 Jan 27;30(4):1250-7. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1623-09.2010.

Gamma-phase shifting in awake monkey visual cortex.

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Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6525 EN Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Gamma-band synchronization is abundant in nervous systems. Typically, the strength or precision of gamma-band synchronization is studied. However, the precise phase with which individual neurons are synchronized to the gamma-band rhythm might have interesting consequences for their impact on further processing and for spike timing-dependent plasticity. Therefore, we investigated whether the spike times of individual neurons shift systematically in the gamma cycle as a function of the neuronal activation strength. We found that stronger neuronal activation leads to spikes earlier in the gamma cycle, i.e., we observed gamma-phase shifting. Gamma-phase shifting occurred on very rapid timescales. It was particularly pronounced for periods in which gamma-band synchronization was relatively weak and for neurons that were only weakly coupled to the gamma rhythm. We suggest that gamma-phase shifting is brought about by an interplay between overall excitation and gamma-rhythmic synaptic input and has interesting consequences for neuronal coding, competition, and plasticity.

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