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Neural gain control measured through cortical gamma oscillations is associated with sensory sensitivity.

Journal article
Authors Elena V Orekhova
Tatiana A Stroganova
Justin F. Schneiderman
Sebastian Lundström
Bushra Riaz
Darko Sarovic
Olga V Sysoeva
Georg Brant
Christopher Gillberg
Nouchine Hadjikhani
Published in Human brain mapping
Volume 40
Issue 5
Pages 1583-1593
ISSN 1097-0193
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 1583-1593
Language en
Keywords autism spectrum disorders; gamma oscillations; magneto-encephalography; response gain control; sensory sensitivity; visual motion
Subject categories Child and adolescent psychiatry


Gamma oscillations facilitate information processing by shaping the excitatory input/output of neuronal populations. Recent studies in humans and nonhuman primates have shown that strong excitatory drive to the visual cortex leads to suppression of induced gamma oscillations, which may reflect inhibitory-based gain control of network excitation. The efficiency of the gain control measured through gamma oscillations may in turn affect sensory sensitivity in everyday life. To test this prediction, we assessed the link between self-reported sensitivity and changes in magneto-encephalographic gamma oscillations as a function of motion velocity of high-contrast visual gratings. The induced gamma oscillations increased in frequency and decreased in power with increasing stimulation intensity. As expected, weaker suppression of the gamma response correlated with sensory hypersensitivity. Robustness of this result was confirmed by its replication in the two samples: neurotypical subjects and people with autism, who had generally elevated sensory sensitivity. We conclude that intensity-related suppression of gamma response is a promising biomarker of homeostatic control of the excitation-inhibition balance in the visual cortex.

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