Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 97, Issue 4, pp 317–335

Visual gamma oscillations: waves, correlations, and other phenomena, including comparison with experimental data

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00422-007-0177-x

Cite this article as:
Robinson, P.A. Biol Cybern (2007) 97: 317. doi:10.1007/s00422-007-0177-x


Mean-field theory of brain dynamics is applied to explain the properties of gamma (≳30 Hz) oscillations of cortical activity often seen during vision experiments. It is shown that mm-scale patchy connections in the primary visual cortex can support collective gamma oscillations with the correct frequencies and spatial structure, even when driven by uncorrelated inputs. This occurs via resonances associated with the the periodic modulation of the network connections, rather than being due to single-cell properties alone. Near-resonant gamma waves are shown to obey the Schrödinger equation, which enables techniques and insights from quantum theory to be used in exploring these classical oscillations. Resulting predictions for gamma responses to stimuli account in a unified way for a wide range of experimental results, including why oscillations and zero-lag synchrony are associated, and variations in correlation functions with time delay, intercellular distance, and stimulus features. They also imply that gamma oscillations may enable a form of frequency multiplexing of neural signals. Most importantly, it is shown that correlations reproduce experimental results that show maximal correlations between cells that respond to related features, but little correlation with other cells, an effect that has been argued to be associated with segmentation of a scene into separate objects. Consistency with infill of missing contours and increase in response with length of bar-shaped stimuli are discussed. Background correlations expected in the absence of stimulation are also calculated and shown to be consistent in form with experimental measurements and similar to stimulus-induced correlations in structure. Finally, possible links of gamma instabilities to certain classes of photically induced seizures and visual hallucinations are discussed.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PhysicsThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Brain Dynamics Center, Westmead Millennium InstituteWestmead Hospital and Western Clinical School of The University of SydneyWestmeadAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of MedicineThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia