Cortical oscillations are thought to be involved in many cognitive functions and processes. Several mechanisms have been proposed to regulate oscillations. One prominent but understudied mechanism is gap junction coupling. Gap junctions are ubiquitous in cortex between GABAergic interneurons. Moreover, recent experiments indicate their strength can be modified in an activity-dependent manner, similar to chemical synapses. We hypothesized that activity-dependent gap junction plasticity acts as a mechanism to regulate oscillations in the cortex. We developed a computational model of gap junction plasticity in a recurrent cortical network based on recent experimental findings. We showed that gap junction plasticity can serve as a homeostatic mechanism for oscillations by maintaining a tight balance between two network states: asynchronous irregular activity and synchronized oscillations. This homeostatic mechanism allows for robust communication between neuronal assemblies through two different mechanisms: transient oscillations and frequency modulation. This implies a direct functional role for gap junction plasticity in information transmission in cortex.
Pernelle, G., Nicola, W., & Clopath, C. (2018). Gap junction plasticity as a mechanism to regulate network-wide oscillations. PLoS Computational Biology, 14(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006025