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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 915606, 12 pages
Review Article

Modeling the Generation of Phase-Amplitude Coupling in Cortical Circuits: From Detailed Networks to Neural Mass Models

Department of Radiology and Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada T3A 2E1

Received 27 March 2015; Revised 28 July 2015; Accepted 6 August 2015

Academic Editor: Vincenzo Romei

Copyright © 2015 Roberto C. Sotero. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Phase-amplitude coupling (PAC), the phenomenon where the amplitude of a high frequency oscillation is modulated by the phase of a lower frequency oscillation, is attracting an increasing interest in the neuroscience community due to its potential relevance for understanding healthy and pathological information processing in the brain. PAC is a diverse phenomenon, having been experimentally detected in at least ten combinations of rhythms: delta-theta, delta-alpha, delta-beta, delta-gamma, theta-alpha, theta-beta, theta-gamma, alpha-beta, alpha-gamma, and beta-gamma. However, a complete understanding of the biophysical mechanisms generating this diversity is lacking. Here we review computational models of PAC generation that range from detailed models of neuronal networks, where each cell is described by Hodgkin-Huxley-type equations, to neural mass models (NMMs) where only the average activities of neuronal populations are considered. We argue that NMMs are an appropriate mathematical framework (due to the small number of parameters and variables involved and the richness of the dynamics they can generate) to study the PAC phenomenon.