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    Mixed-mode oscillations and population bursting in the pre-Bötzinger complex.
    Elife 2016 Mar 14;5:e13403. Epub 2016 Mar 14.
    Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, United States.
    This study focuses on computational and theoretical investigations of neuronal activity arising in the pre-Bötzinger complex (pre-BötC), a medullary region generating the inspiratory phase of breathing in mammals. A progressive increase of neuronal excitability in medullary slices containing the pre-BötC produces mixed-mode oscillations (MMOs) characterized by large amplitude population bursts alternating with a series of small amplitude bursts. Using two different computational models, we demonstrate that MMOs emerge within a heterogeneous excitatory neural network because of progressive neuronal recruitment and synchronization. The MMO pattern depends on the distributed neuronal excitability, the density and weights of network interconnections, and the cellular properties underlying endogenous bursting. Critically, the latter should provide a reduction of spiking frequency within neuronal bursts with increasing burst frequency and a dependence of the after-burst recovery period on burst amplitude. Our study highlights a novel mechanism by which heterogeneity naturally leads to complex dynamics in rhythmic neuronal populations.

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