Rhythmic synchrony between neurons has been suggested as a mechanism for establishing communication channels between neurons. However, this hypothesis has been criticized because of observations that the exact frequency of gamma oscillations bounces around too much to provide a stable communication channel. (BTW, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone that single neuron activity also bounces around).
In this study, Roberts et al record from V1 and V2 simultaneously while presenting gratings of varying contrast. Even though the gamma frequencies changed with stimulus contrast and fluctuated over time, coherence remained stable between V1 and V2. Thus, rhythmic synchrony can provide a stable channel for neural communication.
For further reading on the role of rhythmic synchrony in neural communication see:
Miller, E.K. and Buschman, T.J. (2013) Cortical circuits for the control of attention. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 23:216–222 View PDF »
Buschman, T.J., Denovellis, E.L., Diogo, C., Bullock, D. and Miller, E.K. (2012) Synchronous oscillatory neural ensembles for rules in the prefrontal cortex. Neuron, 76: 838-846. View PDF
About the Author
The Miller Lab uses experimental and theoretical approaches to study the neural basis of the high-level cognitive functions that underlie complex goal-directed behavior. ekmillerlab.mit.edu