Induced neural phase precession through exogenous electric fields

Miles Wischnewski, Harry Tran, Zhihe Zhao, Sina Shirinpour, Zachary J. Haigh, Jonna Rotteveel, Nipun D. Perera, Ivan Alekseichuk, Jan Zimmermann, Alexander Opitz

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The gradual shifting of preferred neural spiking relative to local field potentials (LFPs), known as phase precession, plays a prominent role in neural coding. Correlations between the phase precession and behavior have been observed throughout various brain regions. As such, phase precession is suggested to be a global neural mechanism that promotes local neuroplasticity. However, causal evidence and neuroplastic mechanisms of phase precession are lacking so far. Here we show a causal link between LFP dynamics and phase precession. In three experiments, we modulated LFPs in humans, a non-human primate, and computational models using alternating current stimulation. We show that continuous stimulation of motor cortex oscillations in humans lead to a gradual phase shift of maximal corticospinal excitability by ~90°. Further, exogenous alternating current stimulation induced phase precession in a subset of entrained neurons (~30%) in the non-human primate. Multiscale modeling of realistic neural circuits suggests that alternating current stimulation-induced phase precession is driven by NMDA-mediated synaptic plasticity. Altogether, the three experiments provide mechanistic and causal evidence for phase precession as a global neocortical process. Alternating current-induced phase precession and consequently synaptic plasticity is crucial for the development of novel therapeutic neuromodulation methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1687
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

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