Computer simulations indicate that electrical field effects contribute to the shape of the epileptiform field potential.
Traub RD., Dudek FE., Snow RW., Knowles WD.
In the presence of convulsant drugs such as picrotoxin, neurons in the hippocampal-slice preparation generate synchronized depolarizing bursts. This synchrony occurs on a time scale of tens of milliseconds and is produced by excitatory synaptic interactions between neurons. The synaptic interactions themselves occur on a time scale of tens of milliseconds. The "epileptiform" local-field potential during such synchronized bursts is comb-shaped ("ringing"), whereas the field potential expected if action potentials in neighboring neurons were uncorrelated is noisy and not comb-shaped. This suggests that individual action potentials are locally synchronized on a time scale of 1 ms. We have previously shown, using computer simulations, that electrical interactions--mediated by currents flowing in the extracellular medium--can plausibly explain action-potential synchronization in experiments where chemical synapses are blocked. The present simulations demonstrate that electrical interactions can also account for action-potential synchronization--and thus the "ringing" shape of the field potential--during epileptiform bursts, where excitatory synapses are functional. The field potential is thus a modulating influence on, as well as a reflection of, underlying neuronal transmembrane events.