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Flexible information routing by transient synchrony


Perception, cognition and behavior rely on flexible communication between microcircuits in distinct cortical regions. The mechanisms underlying rapid information rerouting between such microcircuits are still unknown. It has been proposed that changing patterns of coherence between local gamma rhythms support flexible information rerouting. The stochastic and transient nature of gamma oscillations in vivo, however, is hard to reconcile with such a function. Here we show that models of cortical circuits near the onset of oscillatory synchrony selectively route input signals despite the short duration of gamma bursts and the irregularity of neuronal firing. In canonical multiarea circuits, we find that gamma bursts spontaneously arise with matched timing and frequency and that they organize information flow by large-scale routing states. Specific self-organized routing states can be induced by minor modulations of background activity.

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Figure 1: The transient synchrony regime.
Figure 2: Co-emergence and frequency tracking of gamma bursts.
Figure 3: Transient phase-locking.
Figure 4: Information transfer during transient burst events.
Figure 5: Flexible routing of input signals through a hierarchy of areas.
Figure 6: Steering information transfer.


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We thank U. Ernst, C.M. Gray, A. Kreiter, K. Pawelzik and R. Shapley for discussions. This work was partially supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) under grant no. 01GQ1005B (to A.P., T.G., F.W. and D.B.), by a GGNB Excellence Stipend of the University of Göttingen (to A.P.), through CRC 889 by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and by the VolkswagenStiftung under grant no. ZN2632 (to F.W.), and by the FP7 Marie Curie career development fellowship IEF 330792 (DynViB) (to D.B.).

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A.P. performed the simulations of the models and analyzed the results; A.P., F.W. and D.B. conceived the study, designed models and developed analysis pipelines; A.P., T.G., F.W. and D.B. wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and implications.

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Correspondence to Agostina Palmigiano or Demian Battaglia.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Palmigiano, A., Geisel, T., Wolf, F. et al. Flexible information routing by transient synchrony. Nat Neurosci 20, 1014–1022 (2017).

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