Resonant synchronization in heterogeneous networks of inhibitory neurons

Reinoud Maex, Erik De Schutter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Brain rhythms arise through the synchronization of neurons and their entrainment in a regular firing pattern. In this process, networks of reciprocally connected inhibitory neurons are often involved, but what mechanism determines the oscillation frequency is not completely understood. Analytical studies predict that the emerging frequency band is primarily constrained by the decay rate of the unitary IPSC. We observed a new phenomenon of resonant synchronization in computer-simulated networks of inhibitory neurons in which the synaptic current has a delayed onset, reflecting finite spike propagation and synaptic transmission times. At the resonant level of network excitation, all neurons fire synchronously and rhythmically with a period approximately four times the mean delay of the onset of the inhibitory synaptic current. The amplitude and decay time constant of the synaptic current have relatively minor effects on the emerging frequency band. By varying the axonal delay of the inhibitory connections, networks with a realistic synaptic kinetics can be tuned to frequencies from 40 to >200 Hz. This resonance phenomenon arises in heterogeneous networks with, on average, as few as five connections per neuron. We conclude that the delay of the synaptic current is the primary parameter controlling the oscillation frequency of inhibitory networks and propose that delay-induced synchronization is a mechanism for fast brain rhythms that depend on intact inhibitory synaptic transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10503-14
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2003


  • Synchronization
  • resonance
  • Circuit
  • oscillation
  • Cerebellar Cortex
  • Computer Simulation
  • GABA(A) receptor
  • gap junction
  • Models, Neurological
  • connection delay
  • delay-differential eqaution


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