The generation of oscillations in networks of electrically coupled cells

In several biological systems, the electrical coupling of nonoscillating cells generates synchronized membrane potential oscillations. Because the isolated cell is nonoscillating and electrical coupling tends to equalize the membrane potentials of the coupled cells, the mechanism underlying these oscillations is unclear. Here we present a dynamic mechanism by which the electrical coupling of identical nonoscillating cells can generate synchronous membrane potential oscillations. We demonstrate this mechanism by constructing a biologically feasible model of electrically coupled cells, characterized by an excitable membrane and calcium dynamics. We show that strong electrical coupling in this network generates multiple oscillatory states with different spatio-temporal patterns and discuss their possible role in the cooperative computations performed by the system.

Authors: Loewenstein Y, Yarom Y, Sompolinsky H.
Year of publication: 2001
Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jul 3;98(14):8095-100

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“Working memory”