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Divisive gain modulation enables flexible and rapid entrainment in a neocortical microcircuit model

Lookup NU author(s): Christoforos Papasavvas, Professor Andrew Trevelyan, Professor Marcus Kaiser, Dr Yujiang WangORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Neocortical circuits exhibit a rich dynamic repertoire, and their ability to achieve entrainment (adjustment of their frequency to match the input frequency) is thought to support many cognitive functions and indicate functional flexibility. Although previous studies have explored the influence of various circuit properties on this phenomenon, the role of divisive gain modulation (or divisive inhibition) is unknown. This gain control mechanism is thought to be delivered mainly by the soma-targeting interneurons in neocortical microcircuits. In this study, we use a neural mass model of the neocortical microcircuit (extended Wilson-Cowan model) featuring both soma-targeting and dendrite-targeting interneuronal subpopulations to investigate the role of divisive gain modulation in entrainment. Our results demonstrate that the presence of divisive inhibition in the microcircuit, as delivered by the soma-targeting interneurons, enables its entrainment to a wider range of input frequencies. Divisive inhibition also promotes a faster entrainment, with the microcircuit needing less time to converge to the fully entrained state. We suggest that divisive inhibition, working alongside subtractive inhibition, allows for more adaptive oscillatory responses in neocortical circuits and, thus, supports healthy brain functioning.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We introduce a computational neocortical microcircuit model that features two inhibitory neural populations, with one providing subtractive and the other divisive inhibition to the excitatory population. We demonstrate that divisive inhibition widens the range of input frequencies to which the microcircuit can become entrained and diminishes the time needed to reach full entrainment. We suggest that divisive inhibition enables more adaptive oscillatory activity, with important implications for both normal and pathological brain function.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Papasavvas CA, Trevelyan AJ, Kaiser M, Wang Y

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Neurophysiology

Year: 2020

Volume: 123

Issue: 3

Pages: 1133-1143

Online publication date: 23/03/2020

Acceptance date: 03/02/2020

Date deposited: 12/06/2020

ISSN (print): 0022-3077

ISSN (electronic): 1522-1598

Publisher: American Physiological Society


DOI: 10.1152/jn.00401.2019

PubMed id: 32023140


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