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Cholinergic neuromodulation controls directed temporal communication in neocortex in vitro

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anita Roopun, Dr Fiona LeBeau, Professor Mark Cunningham, Professor Miles Whittington


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Acetylcholine is the primary neuromodulator involved in cortical arousal in mammals. Cholinergic modulation is involved in conscious awareness, memory formation and attention-processes that involve intercommunication between different cortical regions. Such communication is achieved in part through temporal structuring of neuronal activity by population rhythms, particularly in the beta and gamma frequency ranges (12-80 Hz). Here we demonstrate, using in vitro and in silico models, that spectrally identical patterns of beta2 and gamma rhythms are generated in primary sensory areas and polymodal association areas by fundamentally different local circuit mechanisms: Glutamatergic excitation induced beta2 frequency population rhythms only in layer 5 association cortex whereas cholinergic neuromodulation induced this rhythm only in layer 5 primary sensory cortex. This region-specific sensitivity of local circuits to cholinergic modulation allowed for control of the extent of cortical temporal interactions. Furthermore, the contrasting mechanisms underlying these beta2 rhythms produced a high degree of directionality, favouring an influence of association cortex over primary auditory cortex.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Roopun AK, LeBeau FEN, Rammell J, Cunningham MO, Traub RD, Whittington MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Frontiers in Neural Circuits

Year: 2010

Volume: 4

Issue: 1

Pages: 8

Print publication date: 22/03/2010

ISSN (electronic): 1662-5110

Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation


DOI: 10.3389/fncir.2010.00008


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Funder referenceFunder name
Alexander von Humboldt Stifftung
Medical Research Council (UK)
Wolfson Foundation