Influence of extracellular oscillations on neural communication: a computational perspective
Neural communication generates oscillations of electric potential in the extracellular medium. In feedback, these oscillations affect the electrochemical processes within the neurons, influencing the timing and the number of action potentials. It is unclear whether this influence should be considered only as noise or it has some functional role in neural communication. Through computer simulations we investigated the effect of various sinusoidal extracellular oscillations on the timing and number of action potentials. Each simulation is based on a multicompartment model of a single neuron, which is stimulated through spatially distributed synaptic activations. A thorough analysis is conducted on a large number of simulations with different models of CA3 and CA1 pyramidal neurons which are modeled using realistic morphologies and active ion conductances. We demonstrated that the influence of the weak extracellular oscillations, which are commonly present in the brain, is rather stochastic and modest. We found that the stronger fields, which are spontaneously present in the brain only in some particular cases (e.g., during seizures) or that can be induced externally, could significantly modulate spike timings.