Excitatory/inhibitory responses shape coherent neuronal dynamics driven by optogenetic stimulation in the primate brain

Ryan A. Shewcraft, Heather L. Dean, Margaret M. Fabiszak, Maureen A. Hagan, Yan T. Wong, Bijan Pesaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coherent neuronal dynamics play an important role in complex cognitive functions. Optogenetic stimulation promises to provide new ways to test the functional significance of coherent neural activity. However, the mechanisms by which optogenetic stimulation drives coherent dynamics remain unclear, especially in the nonhuman primate brain. Here, we perform computational modeling and experiments to study the mechanisms of optogenetic-stimulation-driven coherent neuronal dynamics in three male nonhuman primates. Neural responses arise from stimulation-evoked, temporally dynamic excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) activity. Spiking activity is more likely to occur during E/I imbalances. Thus the relative difference in the driven E and I responses precisely controls spike timing by forming a brief time interval of increased spiking likelihood. Experimental results agree with parameter-dependent predictions from the computational models. These results demonstrate that optogenetic stimulation driven coherent neuronal dynamics are governed by the temporal properties of E/I activity. Transient imbalances in excitatory and inhibitory activity may provide a general mechanism for generating coherent neuronal dynamics without the need for an oscillatory generator. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT We examine how coherent neuronal dynamics arise from optogenetic stimulation in the primate brain. Using computational models and experiments, we demonstrate that coherent spiking and local field potential activity is generated by stimulation-evoked responses of excitatory and inhibitory activity in networks, extending the growing literature on neuronal dynamics. These responses create brief time intervals of increased spiking tendency and are consistent with previous observations in the literature that balanced excitation and inhibition controls spike timing, suggesting that optogenetic-stimulation-driven coherence may arise from intrinsic E/I balance. Most importantly, our results are obtained in nonhuman primates and thus will play a leading role in driving the use of causal manipulations with optogenetic tools to study higher cognitive functions in the primate brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2056-2068
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - Mar 4 2020


  • Balanced networks
  • Neural coherence
  • Nonhuman primate
  • Optogenetic stimulation
  • Optogenetics/methods
  • Neurons/physiology
  • Action Potentials/physiology
  • Brain/physiology
  • Male
  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Macaca
  • Models, Neurological

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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