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Hum Brain Mapp. 2019 Apr 1;40(5):1583-1593. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24469. Epub 2018 Dec 13.

Neural gain control measured through cortical gamma oscillations is associated with sensory sensitivity.

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Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre (GNC), University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Center for Neurocognitive Research (MEG Center), Moscow, Russia.
Autism Research Laboratory, Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Moscow, Russia.
Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, University of Gothenburg, Institute of Neuroscience & Physiology, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Chalmers University of Technology and MedTech West, Gothenburg, Sweden.
MGH/MIT/HST Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts.


Gamma oscillations facilitate information processing by shaping the excitatory input/output of neuronal populations. Recent studies in humans and nonhuman primates have shown that strong excitatory drive to the visual cortex leads to suppression of induced gamma oscillations, which may reflect inhibitory-based gain control of network excitation. The efficiency of the gain control measured through gamma oscillations may in turn affect sensory sensitivity in everyday life. To test this prediction, we assessed the link between self-reported sensitivity and changes in magneto-encephalographic gamma oscillations as a function of motion velocity of high-contrast visual gratings. The induced gamma oscillations increased in frequency and decreased in power with increasing stimulation intensity. As expected, weaker suppression of the gamma response correlated with sensory hypersensitivity. Robustness of this result was confirmed by its replication in the two samples: neurotypical subjects and people with autism, who had generally elevated sensory sensitivity. We conclude that intensity-related suppression of gamma response is a promising biomarker of homeostatic control of the excitation-inhibition balance in the visual cortex.


autism spectrum disorders; gamma oscillations; magneto-encephalography; response gain control; sensory sensitivity; visual motion

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