Synchronization has been implicated in neuronal communication, but causal evidence remains indirect. We used optogenetics to generate depolarizing currents in pyramidal neurons of cat visual cortex, emulating excitatory synaptic inputs under precise temporal control, while measuring spike output. Cortex transformed constant excitation into strong gamma-band synchronization, revealing the well-known cortical resonance. Increasing excitation with ramps increased the strength and frequency of synchronization. Slow, symmetric excitation profiles revealed hysteresis of power and frequency. Crucially, white-noise input sequences enabled causal analysis of network transmission, establishing that cortical resonance selectively transmits coherent input components. Models composed of recurrently coupled excitatory and inhibitory units uncovered a crucial role of feedback inhibition and suggest that hysteresis can arise through spike-frequency adaptation. The presented approach provides a powerful means to investigate the resonance properties of local circuits and probe how these properties transform input and shape transmission.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience