Emergent spindle oscillations and intermittent burst firing in a thalamic model: Specific neuronal mechanisms

X. J. Wang, D. Golomb, J. Rinzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rhythmogenesis of 10-Hz sleep spindles is studied in a large-scale thalamic network model with two cell populations: the excitatory thalamocortical (TC) relay neurons and the inhibitory nucleus reticularis thalami (RE) neurons. Spindle-like bursting oscillations emerge naturally from reciprocal interactions between TC and RE neurons. We find that the network oscillations can be synchronized coherently, even though the RE-TC connections are random and sparse, and even though individual neurons fire rebound bursts intermittently in time. When the fast γ-aminobutyrate type A synaptic inhibition is blocked, synchronous slow oscillations resembling absence seizures are observed. Near-maximal network synchrony is established with even modest convergence in the RE-to-TC projection (as few as 5-10 RE inputs per TC cell suffice). The hyperpolarization-activated cation current (I(h)) is found to provide a cellular basis for the intermittency of rebound bursting that is commonly observed in TC neurons during spindles. Such synchronous oscillations with intermittency can be maintained only with a significant degree of convergence for the TC-to-RE projection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5577-5581
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 6 1995


  • biophysical network modeling
  • nucleus reticularis thalami
  • synchrony
  • thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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