Persistent synchronized bursting activity in cortical tissues with low magnesium concentration: A modeling study

David Golomb, Anat Shedmi, Rodica Curtu, G. Bard Ermentrout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We explore the mechanism of synchronized bursting activity with frequency of ∼10 Hz that appears in cortical tissues at low extracellular magnesium concentration [Mg2+]o. We hypothesize that this activity is persistent, namely coexists with the quiescent state and depends on slow N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) conductances. To explore this hypothesis, we construct and investigate a conductance-based model of excitatory cortical networks. Population bursting activity can persist for physiological values of the NMDA decay time constant (∼100 ms). Neurons are synchronized at the time scale of bursts but not of single spikes. A reduced model of a cell coupled to itself can encompass most of this highly synchronized network behavior and is analyzed using the fast-slow method. Synchronized bursts appear for intermediate values of the NMDA conductance gNMDA if NMDA conductances are not too fast. Regular spiking activity appears for larger gNMDA. If the single cell is a conditional burster, persistent synchronized bursts become more robust. Weakly synchronized states appear for zero AMPA conductance g AMPA. Enhancing gAMPA increases both synchrony and the number of spikes within bursts and decreases the bursting frequency. Too strong gAMPA, however, prevents the activity because it enhances neuronal intrinsic adaptation. When [Mg2+]o is increased, higher gNMDA values are needed to maintain bursting activity. Bursting frequency decreases with [Mg2+]o, and the network is silent with physiological [Mg2+]o. Inhibition weakly decreases the bursting frequency if inhibitory cells receive enough NMDA-mediated excitation. This study explains the importance of conditional bursters in layer V in supporting epileptiform activity at low [Mg 2+]o.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1049-1067
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Physiology


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