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Title: Investigating the role of fast-spiking interneurons in neocortical dynamics
Authors: Papasavvas, Christoforos A
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Fast-spiking interneurons are the largest interneuronal population in neocortex. It is well documented that this population is crucial in many functions of the neocortex by subserving all aspects of neural computation, like gain control, and by enabling dynamic phenomena, like the generation of high frequency oscillations. Fast-spiking interneurons, which represent mainly the parvalbumin-expressing, soma-targeting basket cells, are also implicated in pathological dynamics, like the propagation of seizures or the impaired coordination of activity in schizophrenia. In the present thesis, I investigate the role of fast-spiking interneurons in such dynamic phenomena by using computational and experimental techniques. First, I introduce a neural mass model of the neocortical microcircuit featuring divisive inhibition, a gain control mechanism, which is thought to be delivered mainly by the soma-targeting interneurons. Its dynamics were analysed at the onset of chaos and during the phenomena of entrainment and long-range synchronization. It is demonstrated that the mechanism of divisive inhibition reduces the sensitivity of the network to parameter changes and enhances the stability and exibility of oscillations. Next, in vitro electrophysiology was used to investigate the propagation of activity in the network of electrically coupled fast-spiking interneurons. Experimental evidence suggests that these interneurons and their gap junctions are involved in the propagation of seizures. Using multi-electrode array recordings and optogenetics, I investigated the possibility of such propagating activity under the conditions of raised extracellular K+ concentration which applies during seizures. Propagated activity was recorded and the involvement of gap junctions was con rmed by pharmacological manipulations. Finally, the interaction between two oscillations was investigated. Two oscillations with di erent frequencies were induced in cortical slices by directly activating the pyramidal cells using optogenetics. Their interaction suggested the possibility of a coincidence detection mechanism at the circuit level. Pharmacological manipulations were used to explore the role of the inhibitory interneurons during this phenomenon. The results, however, showed that the observed phenomenon was not a result of synaptic activity. Nevertheless, the experiments provided some insights about the excitability of the tissue through scattered light while using optogenetics. This investigation provides new insights into the role of fast-spiking interneurons in the neocortex. In particular, it is suggested that the gain control mechanism is important for the physiological oscillatory dynamics of the network and that the gap junctions between these interneurons can potentially contribute to the inhibitory restraint during a seizure.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Institute of Neuroscience

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