The Use of Reduced Models to Generate Irregular, Broad-Band Signals That Resemble Brain Rhythms

Benjamin Ambrosio, Lai Sang Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The brain produces rhythms in a variety of frequency bands. Some are likely by-products of neuronal processes; others are thought to be top-down. Produced entirely naturally, these rhythms have clearly recognizable beats, but they are very far from periodic in the sense of mathematics. The signals are broad-band, episodic, wandering in amplitude and frequency; the rhythm comes and goes, degrading and regenerating. Gamma rhythms, in particular, have been studied by many authors in computational neuroscience, using reduced models as well as networks of hundreds to thousands of integrate-and-fire neurons. All of these models captured successfully the oscillatory nature of gamma rhythms, but the irregular character of gamma in reduced models has not been investigated thoroughly. In this article, we tackle the mathematical question of whether signals with the properties of brain rhythms can be generated from low dimensional dynamical systems. We found that while adding white noise to single periodic cycles can to some degree simulate gamma dynamics, such models tend to be limited in their ability to capture the range of behaviors observed. Using an ODE with two variables inspired by the FitzHugh-Nagumo and Leslie-Gower models, with stochastically varying coefficients designed to control independently amplitude, frequency, and degree of degeneracy, we were able to replicate the qualitative characteristics of natural brain rhythms. To demonstrate model versatility, we simulate the power spectral densities of gamma rhythms in various brain states recorded in experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number889235
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jun 13 2022


  • E/I-conductances
  • brain rhythms
  • gamma-band activity
  • power spectral densities
  • randomly varying coefficients
  • slow-fast dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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