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Biophysical and Network Mechanisms of High Frequency Extracellular Potentials in the Rat Hippocampus


Schomburg, Erik W. (2014) Biophysical and Network Mechanisms of High Frequency Extracellular Potentials in the Rat Hippocampus. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/7TXG-7M48.


A fundamental question in neuroscience is how distributed networks of neurons communicate and coordinate dynamically and specifically. Several models propose that oscillating local networks can transiently couple to each other through phase-locked firing. Coherent local field potentials (LFP) between synaptically connected regions is often presented as evidence for such coupling. The physiological correlates of LFP signals depend on many anatomical and physiological factors, however, and how the underlying neural processes collectively generate features of different spatiotemporal scales is poorly understood. High frequency oscillations in the hippocampus, including gamma rhythms (30-100 Hz) that are organized by the theta oscillations (5-10 Hz) during active exploration and REM sleep, as well as sharp wave-ripples (SWRs, 140-200 Hz) during immobility or slow wave sleep, have each been associated with various aspects of learning and memory. Deciphering their physiology and functional consequences is crucial to understanding the operation of the hippocampal network.

We investigated the origins and coordination of high frequency LFPs in the hippocampo-entorhinal network using both biophysical models and analyses of large-scale recordings in behaving and sleeping rats. We found that the synchronization of pyramidal cell spikes substantially shapes, or even dominates, the electrical signature of SWRs in area CA1 of the hippocampus. The precise mechanisms coordinating this synchrony are still unresolved, but they appear to also affect CA1 activity during theta oscillations. The input to CA1, which often arrives in the form of gamma-frequency waves of activity from area CA3 and layer 3 of entorhinal cortex (EC3), did not strongly influence the timing of CA1 pyramidal cells. Rather, our data are more consistent with local network interactions governing pyramidal cells' spike timing during the integration of their inputs. Furthermore, the relative timing of input from EC3 and CA3 during the theta cycle matched that found in previous work to engage mechanisms for synapse modification and active dendritic processes. Our work demonstrates how local networks interact with upstream inputs to generate a coordinated hippocampal output during behavior and sleep, in the form of theta-gamma coupling and SWRs.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:oscillations, LFP, action potential
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Koch, Christof
Thesis Committee:
  • Pine, Jerome (chair)
  • Lester, Henry A.
  • Buzsaki, Gyorgy
  • Koch, Christof
Defense Date:27 January 2014
Non-Caltech Author Email:eschomburg (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
National Institutes of HealthUNSPECIFIED
Human Frontiers Science ProgramUNSPECIFIED
The Mathers FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05202014-055842097
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8246
Deposited By: Erik Schomburg
Deposited On:22 May 2014 21:52
Last Modified:30 Aug 2022 22:45

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