- The rhythmogenesis of 10-Hz sleep spindles is studied in a large-scale thalamic network model with two cell populations: the excitatory thalamocortical (TC) relay neurons and the inhibitory nucleus reticularis thalami (RE) neurons. Spindle-like bursting oscillations emerge naturally from reciprocal interactions between TC and RE neurons. We find that the network oscillations can be synchronized coherently, even though the RE-TC connections are random and sparse, and even though individual neurons fire rebound bursts intermittently in time. When the fast gamma-aminobutyrate type A synaptic inhibition is blocked, synchronous slow oscillations resembling absence seizures are observed. Near-maximal network synchrony is established with even modest convergence in the RE-to-TC projection (as few as 5-10 RE inputs per TC cell suffice). The hyperpolarization-activated cation current (Ih) is found to provide a cellular basis for the intermittency of rebound bursting that is commonly observed in TC neurons during spindles. Such synchronous oscillations with intermittency can be maintained only with a significant degree of convergence for the TC-to-RE projection.