W. van Drongelen, H. C. Lee, R. L. Stevens, M. Hereld, "Propagation of Seizurelike Activity in a Model of Neocortex," Preprint ANL/MCS-P1363-0706, July 2006. [pdf]
Seizures in pediatric epilepsy are often associated with spreading, repetitive bursting activity in neocortex. We examined onset and propagation of seizurelike activity using a computational model of cortical circuitry. The model includes two pyramidal cell types and four types of inhibitory interneurons; each neuron is represented by a multicompartmental model with biophysically realistic ion channels. We determined the role of bursting neurons and found that their capability of driving network oscillations is most prominent in networks with either weak or relatively strong excitatory synaptic coupling. Synaptic coupling strength was varied in a separate set of simulations to examine its role in network bursting. Oscillations both between cortical layers (vertical oscillations) and between cortical areas (horizontal oscillations) emerge at moderate excitatory coupling strengths. For horizontal propagation, existence of a fast conducting fiber system and its properties are critical. We conclude that seizurelike oscillatory activity may originate from single neurons or small networks and that activity may propagate in two principal fashions: one that can be represented by a unidirectional (pacemaker)-type process and the other as multi- or bidirectional propagating waves. The frequency of the bursting aptterns relates to underlying propagating activity that can either sustain or disrupt the ongoing oscillation.