A central problem in cortical processing including sensory binding and attentional gating is how neurons can synchronize their responses with zero or near-zero time lag. For a spontaneously firing neuron, an input from another neuron can delay or advance the next spike by different amounts depending upon the timing of the input relative to the previous spike. This information constitutes the phase response curve (PRC). We present a simple graphical method for determining the effect of PRC shape on synchronization tendencies and illustrate it using type 1 PRCs, which consist entirely of advances (delays) in response to excitation (inhibition). We obtained the following generic solutions for type 1 PRCs, which include the pulse-coupled leaky integrate and fire model. For pairs with mutual excitation, exact synchrony can be stable for strong coupling because of the stabilizing effect of the causal limit region of the PRC in which an input triggers a spike immediately upon arrival. However, synchrony is unstable for short delays, because delayed inputs arrive during a refractory period and cannot trigger an immediate spike. Right skew destabilizes antiphase and enables modes with time lags that grow as the conduction delay is increased. Therefore, right skew favors near synchrony at short conduction delays and a gradual transition between synchrony and antiphase for pairs coupled by mutual excitation. For pairs with mutual inhibition, zero time lag synchrony is stable for conduction delays ranging from zero to a substantial fraction of the period for pairs. However, for right skew there is a preferred antiphase mode at short delays. In contrast to mutual excitation, left skew destabilizes antiphase for mutual inhibition so that synchrony dominates at short delays as well. These pairwise synchronization tendencies constrain the synchronization properties of neurons embedded in larger networks.
synchrony; synchronization; pulsatile coupling; phase locking; phase resetting
Spatiotemporal pattern formation in neuronal networks depends on the interplay between cellular and network synchronization properties. The neuronal phase response curve (PRC) is an experimentally obtainable measure that characterizes the cellular response to small perturbations, and can serve as an indicator of cellular propensity for synchronization. Two broad classes of PRCs have been identified for neurons: Type I, in which small excitatory perturbations induce only advances in firing, and Type II, in which small excitatory perturbations can induce both advances and delays in firing. Interestingly, neuronal PRCs are usually attenuated with increased spiking frequency, and Type II PRCs typically exhibit a greater attenuation of the phase delay region than of the phase advance region. We found that this phenomenon arises from an interplay between the time constants of active ionic currents and the interspike interval. As a result, excitatory networks consisting of neurons with Type I PRCs responded very differently to frequency modulation compared to excitatory networks composed of neurons with Type II PRCs. Specifically, increased frequency induced a sharp decrease in synchrony of networks of Type II neurons, while frequency increases only minimally affected synchrony in networks of Type I neurons. These results are demonstrated in networks in which both types of neurons were modeled generically with the Morris-Lecar model, as well as in networks consisting of Hodgkin-Huxley-based model cortical pyramidal cells in which simulated effects of acetylcholine changed PRC type. These results are robust to different network structures, synaptic strengths and modes of driving neuronal activity, and they indicate that Type I and Type II excitatory networks may display two distinct modes of processing information.
Synchronization of the firing of neurons in the brain is related to many cognitive functions, such as recognizing faces, discriminating odors, and coordinating movement. It is therefore important to understand what properties of neuronal networks promote synchrony of neural firing. One measure that is often used to determine the contribution of individual neurons to network synchrony is called the phase response curve (PRC). PRCs describe how the timing of neuronal firing changes depending on when input, such as a synaptic signal, is received by the neuron. A characteristic of PRCs that has previously not been well understood is that they change dramatically as the neuron's firing frequency is modulated. This effect carries potential significance, since cognitive functions are often associated with specific frequencies of network activity in the brain. We showed computationally that the frequency dependence of PRCs can be explained by the relative timing of ionic membrane currents with respect to the time between spike firings. Our simulations also showed that the frequency dependence of neuronal PRCs leads to frequency-dependent changes in network synchronization that can be different for different neuron types. These results further our understanding of how synchronization is generated in the brain to support various cognitive functions.
We investigate why electrically coupled neuronal oscillators synchronize or fail to synchronize using the theory of weakly coupled oscillators. Stability of synchrony and antisynchrony is predicted analytically and verified using numerical bifurcation diagrams. The shape of the phase response curve (PRC), the shape of the voltage time course, and the frequency of spiking are freely varied to map out regions of parameter spaces that hold stable solutions. We find that type-1 and type-2 PRCs can both hold synchronous and antisynchronous solutions, but the shape of the PRC and the voltage determine the extent of their stability. This is achieved by introducing a five-piecewise linear model to the PRC, and a three-piecewise linear model to the voltage time course, and then analyzing the resultant eigenvalue equations that determine the stability of the phase-locked solutions. A single time parameter defines the skewness of the PRC, and another single time parameter defines the spike width and frequency. Our approach gives a comprehensive picture of the relation between the PRC shape, voltage time course and the stability of the resultant synchronous and antisynchronous solutions.
How stable synchrony in neuronal networks is sustained in the presence of conduction delays is an open question. The Dynamic Clamp was used to measure phase resetting curves (PRCs) for entorhinal cortical cells, and then to construct networks of two such neurons. PRCs were in general Type I (all advances or all delays) or weakly type II with a small region at early phases with the opposite type of resetting. We used previously developed theoretical methods based on PRCs under the assumption of pulsatile coupling to predict the delays that synchronize these hybrid circuits. For excitatory coupling, synchrony was predicted and observed only with no delay and for delays greater than half a network period that cause each neuron to receive an input late in its firing cycle and almost immediately fire an action potential. Synchronization for these long delays was surprisingly tight and robust to the noise and heterogeneity inherent in a biological system. In contrast to excitatory coupling, inhibitory coupling led to antiphase for no delay, very short delays and delays close to a network period, but to near-synchrony for a wide range of relatively short delays. PRC-based methods show that conduction delays can stabilize synchrony in several ways, including neutralizing a discontinuity introduced by strong inhibition, favoring synchrony in the case of noisy bistability, and avoiding an initial destabilizing region of a weakly type II PRC. PRCs can identify optimal conduction delays favoring synchronization at a given frequency, and also predict robustness to noise and heterogeneity.
Individual oscillators, such as pendulum-based clocks and fireflies, can spontaneously organize into a coherent, synchronized entity with a common frequency. Neurons can oscillate under some circumstances, and can synchronize their firing both within and across brain regions. Synchronized assemblies of neurons are thought to underlie cognitive functions such as recognition, recall, perception and attention. Pathological synchrony can lead to epilepsy, tremor and other dynamical diseases, and synchronization is altered in most mental disorders. Biological neurons synchronize despite conduction delays, heterogeneous circuit composition, and noise. In biological experiments, we built simple networks in which two living neurons could interact via a computer in real time. The computer precisely controlled the nature of the connectivity and the length of the communication delays. We characterized the synchronization tendencies of individual, isolated oscillators by measuring how much a single input delivered by the computer transiently shortened or lengthened the cycle period of the oscillation. We then used this information to correctly predict the strong dependence of the coordination pattern of the firing of the component neurons on the length of the communication delays. Upon this foundation, we can begin to build a theory of the basic principles of synchronization in more complex brain circuits.
Phase response curves (PRCs) have been widely used to study synchronization in neural circuits comprised of pacemaking neurons. They describe how the timing of the next spike in a given spontaneously firing neuron is affected by the phase at which an input from another neuron is received. Here we study two reciprocally coupled clusters of pulse coupled oscillatory neurons. The neurons within each cluster are presumed to be identical and identically pulse coupled, but not necessarily identical to those in the other cluster. We investigate a two cluster solution in which all oscillators are synchronized within each cluster, but in which the two clusters are phase locked at nonzero phase with each other. Intuitively, one might expect this solution to be stable only when synchrony within each isolated cluster is stable, but this is not the case. We prove rigorously the stability of the two cluster solution and show how reciprocal coupling can stabilize synchrony within clusters that cannot synchronize in isolation. These stability results for the two cluster solution suggest a mechanism by which reciprocal coupling between brain regions can induce local synchronization via the network feedback loop.
neuronal networks; synchronization; clustering; phase response curves; pulse coupled oscillators
We review the principal assumptions underlying the application of phase-response curves (PRCs) to synchronization in neuronal networks. The PRC measures how much a given synaptic input perturbs spike timing in a neural oscillator. Among other applications, PRCs make explicit predictions about whether a given network of interconnected neurons will synchronize, as is often observed in cortical structures. Regarding the assumptions of the PRC theory, we conclude: (i) The assumption of noise-tolerant cellular oscillations at or near the network frequency holds in some but not all cases. (ii) Reduced models for PRC-based analysis can be formally related to more realistic models. (iii) Spike-rate adaptation limits PRC-based analysis but does not invalidate it. (iv) The dependence of PRCs on synaptic location emphasizes the importance of improving methods of synaptic stimulation. (v) New methods can distinguish between oscillations that derive from mutual connections and those arising from common drive. (vi) It is helpful to assume linear summation of effects of synaptic inputs; experiments with trains of inputs call this assumption into question. (vii) Relatively subtle changes in network structure can invalidate PRC-based predictions. (viii) Heterogeneity in the preferred frequencies of component neurons does not invalidate PRC analysis, but can annihilate synchronous activity.
neural network; phase-response curve; computational neuroscience
Limit cycle oscillators that are coupled in a pulsatile manner are referred to as pulse coupled oscillators. In these oscillators, the interactions take the form of brief pulses such that the effect of one input dies out before the next is received. A phase resetting curve (PRC) keeps track of how much an input advances or delays the next spike in an oscillatory neuron depending upon where in the cycle the input is applied. PRCs can be used to predict phase locking in networks of pulse coupled oscillators. In some studies of pulse coupled oscillators, a specific form is assumed for the interactions between oscillators, but a more general approach is to formulate the problem assuming a PRC that is generated using a perturbation that approximates the input received in the real biological network. In general, this approach requires that circuit architecture and a specific firing pattern be assumed. This allows the construction of discrete maps from one event to the next. The fixed points of these maps correspond to periodic firing modes and are easier to locate and analyze for stability compared to locating and analyzing periodic modes in the original network directly. Alternatively, maps based on the PRC have been constructed that do not presuppose a firing order. Specific circuits that have been analyzed under the assumption of pulsatile coupling include one to one lockings in a periodically forced oscillator or an oscillator forced at a fixed delay after a threshold event, two bidirectionally coupled oscillators with and without delays, a unidirectional N-ring of oscillators, and N all-to-all networks.
Pulse coupled oscillators; Phase resetting; Phase locking; Synchronization; Splay; Clustering
Gamma oscillations can synchronize with near zero phase lag over multiple cortical regions and between hemispheres, and between two distal sites in hippocampal slices. How synchronization can take place over long distances in a stable manner is considered an open question. The phase resetting curve (PRC) keeps track of how much an input advances or delays the next spike, depending upon where in the cycle it is received. We use PRCs under the assumption of pulsatile coupling to derive existence and stability criteria for 1:1 phase-locking that arises via bidirectional pulse coupling of two limit cycle oscillators with a conduction delay of any duration for any 1:1 firing pattern. The coupling can be strong as long as the effect of one input dissipates before the next input is received. We show the form that the generic synchronous and anti-phase solutions take in a system of two identical, identically pulse-coupled oscillators with identical delays. The stability criterion has a simple form that depends only on the slopes of the PRCs at the phases at which inputs are received and on the number of cycles required to complete the delayed feedback loop. The number of cycles required to complete the delayed feedback loop depends upon both the value of the delay and the firing pattern. We successfully tested the predictions of our methods on networks of model neurons. The criteria can easily be extended to include the effect of an input on the cycle after the one in which it is received.
Our goal is to understand how nearly synchronous modes arise in heterogenous networks of neurons. In heterogenous networks, instead of exact synchrony, nearly synchronous modes arise, which include both 1:1 and 2:2 phase-locked modes. Existence and stability criteria for 2:2 phase-locked modes in reciprocally coupled two neuron circuits were derived based on the open loop phase resetting curve (PRC) without the assumption of weak coupling. The PRC for each component neuron was generated using the change in synaptic conductance produced by a presynaptic action potential as the perturbation. Separate derivations were required for modes in which the firing order is preserved and for those in which it alternates. Networks composed of two model neurons coupled by reciprocal inhibition were examined to test the predictions. The parameter regimes in which both types of nearly synchronous modes are exhibited were accurately predicted both qualitatively and quantitatively provided that the synaptic time constant is short with respect to the period and that the effect of second order resetting is considered. In contrast, PRC methods based on weak coupling could not predict 2:2 modes and did not predict the 1:1 modes with the level of accuracy achieved by the strong coupling methods. The strong coupling prediction methods provide insight into what manipulations promote near-synchrony in a two neuron network and may also have predictive value for larger networks, which can also manifest changes in firing order. We also identify a novel route by which synchrony is lost in mildly heterogenous networks.
Synchrony; phase response curve; network oscillation
A phase resetting curve (PRC) keeps track of the extent to which a perturbation at a given phase advances or delays the next spike, and can be used to predict phase locking in networks of oscillators. The PRC can be estimated by convolving the waveform of the perturbation with the infinitesimal PRC (iPRC) under the assumption of weak coupling. The iPRC is often defined with respect to an infinitesimal current as zi(ϕ), where ϕ is phase, but can also be defined with respect to an infinitesimal conductance change as zg(ϕ). In this paper, we first show that the two approaches are equivalent. Coupling waveforms corresponding to synapses with different time courses sample zg(ϕ) in predictably different ways. We show that for oscillators with Type I excitability, an anomalous region in zg(ϕ) with opposite sign to that seen otherwise is often observed during an action potential. If the duration of the synaptic perturbation is such that it effectively samples this region, PRCs with both advances and delays can be observed despite Type I excitability. We also show that changing the duration of a perturbation so that it preferentially samples regions of stable or unstable slopes in zg(ϕ) can stabilize or destabilize synchrony in a network with the corresponding dynamics.
Synchronization of globus pallidus (GP) neurons and cortically-entrained oscillations between GP and other basal ganglia nuclei are key features of the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease. Phase response curves (PRCs), which tabulate the effects of phasic inputs within a neuron's spike cycle on output spike timing, are efficient tools for predicting the emergence of synchronization in neuronal networks and entrainment to periodic input. In this study we apply physiologically realistic synaptic conductance inputs to a full morphological GP neuron model to determine the phase response properties of the soma and different regions of the dendritic tree. We find that perisomatic excitatory inputs delivered throughout the inter-spike interval advance the phase of the spontaneous spike cycle yielding a type I PRC. In contrast, we demonstrate that distal dendritic excitatory inputs can either delay or advance the next spike depending on whether they occur early or late in the spike cycle. We find this latter pattern of responses, summarized by a biphasic (type II) PRC, was a consequence of dendritic activation of the small conductance calcium-activated potassium current, SK. We also evaluate the spike-frequency dependence of somatic and dendritic PRC shapes, and we demonstrate the robustness of our results to variations of conductance densities, distributions, and kinetic parameters. We conclude that the distal dendrite of GP neurons embodies a distinct dynamical subsystem that could promote synchronization of pallidal networks to excitatory inputs. These results highlight the need to consider different effects of perisomatic and dendritic inputs in the control of network behavior.
dendrite; SK current; synchronization; oscillation; basal ganglia; Parkinson's disease
The response of an oscillator to perturbations is described by its phase-response curve (PRC), which is related to the type of bifurcation leading from rest to tonic spiking. In a recent experimental study, we have shown that the type of PRC in cortical pyramidal neurons can be switched by cholinergic neuromodulation from type II (biphasic) to type I (monophasic). We explored how intrinsic mechanisms affected by acetylcholine influence the PRC using three different types of neuronal models: a theta neuron, single-compartment neurons and a multi-compartment neuron. In all of these models a decrease in the amount of a spike-frequency adaptation current was a necessary and sufficient condition for the shape of the PRC to change from biphasic (type II) to purely positive (type I).
Phase response curves; Cortex; Neuromodulation; Muscarine; Acetylcholine; Pyramidal neuron; Conductance-based model; Multi-compartmental model; M-current
Neural firing is often subject to negative feedback by adaptation currents. These currents can induce strong correlations among the time intervals between spikes. Here we study analytically the interval correlations of a broad class of noisy neural oscillators with spike-triggered adaptation of arbitrary strength and time scale. Our weak-noise theory provides a general relation between the correlations and the phase-response curve (PRC) of the oscillator, proves anti-correlations between neighboring intervals for adapting neurons with type I PRC and identifies a single order parameter that determines the qualitative pattern of correlations. Monotonically decaying or oscillating correlation structures can be related to qualitatively different voltage traces after spiking, which can be explained by the phase plane geometry. At high firing rates, the long-term variability of the spike train associated with the cumulative interval correlations becomes small, independent of model details. Our results are verified by comparison with stochastic simulations of the exponential, leaky, and generalized integrate-and-fire models with adaptation.
spike-frequency adaptation; non-renewal process; serial correlation coefficient; phase-response curve; integrate-and-fire model; long-term variability
Cerebellar Purkinje cells display complex intrinsic dynamics. They fire spontaneously, exhibit bistability, and via mutual network interactions are involved in the generation of high frequency oscillations and travelling waves of activity. To probe the dynamical properties of Purkinje cells we measured their phase response curves (PRCs). PRCs quantify the change in spike phase caused by a stimulus as a function of its temporal position within the interspike interval, and are widely used to predict neuronal responses to more complex stimulus patterns. Significant variability in the interspike interval during spontaneous firing can lead to PRCs with a low signal-to-noise ratio, requiring averaging over thousands of trials. We show using electrophysiological experiments and simulations that the PRC calculated in the traditional way by sampling the interspike interval with brief current pulses is biased. We introduce a corrected approach for calculating PRCs which eliminates this bias. Using our new approach, we show that Purkinje cell PRCs change qualitatively depending on the firing frequency of the cell. At high firing rates, Purkinje cells exhibit single-peaked, or monophasic PRCs. Surprisingly, at low firing rates, Purkinje cell PRCs are largely independent of phase, resembling PRCs of ideal non-leaky integrate-and-fire neurons. These results indicate that Purkinje cells can act as perfect integrators at low firing rates, and that the integration mode of Purkinje cells depends on their firing rate.
By observing how brief current pulses injected at different times between spikes change the phase of spiking of a neuron (and thus obtaining the so-called phase response curve), it should be possible to predict a full spike train in response to more complex stimulation patterns. When we applied this traditional protocol to obtain phase response curves in cerebellar Purkinje cells in the presence of noise, we observed a triangular region devoid of data points near the end of the spiking cycle. This “Bermuda Triangle” revealed a flaw in the classical method for constructing phase response curves. We developed a new approach to eliminate this flaw and used it to construct phase response curves of Purkinje cells over a range of spiking rates. Surprisingly, at low firing rates, phase changes were independent of the phase of the injected current pulses, implying that the Purkinje cell is a perfect integrator under these conditions. This mechanism has not yet been described in other cell types and may be crucial for the information processing capabilities of these neurons.
Central pattern generators (CPGs) frequently include bursting neurons that serve as pacemakers for rhythm generation. Phase resetting curves (PRCs) can provide insight into mechanisms underlying phase locking in such circuits. PRCs were constructed for a pacemaker bursting complex in the pyloric circuit in the stomatogastric ganglion of the lobster and crab. This complex is comprised of the Anterior Burster (AB) neuron and two Pyloric Dilator (PD) neurons that are all electrically coupled. Artificial excitatory synaptic conductance pulses of different strengths and durations were injected into one of the AB or PD somata using the Dynamic Clamp. Previously, we characterized the inhibitory PRCs by assuming a single slow process that enabled synaptic inputs to trigger switches between an up state in which spiking occurs and a down state in which it does not. Excitation produced five different PRC shapes, which could not be explained with such a simple model. A separate dendritic compartment was required to separate the mechanism that generates the up and down phases of the bursting envelope (1) from synaptic inputs applied at the soma, (2) from axonal spike generation and (3) from a slow process with a slower time scale than burst generation. This study reveals that due to the nonlinear properties and compartmentalization of ionic channels, the response to excitation is more complex than inhibition.
Spike generation in cortical neurons depends on the interplay between diverse intrinsic conductances. The phase response curve (PRC) is a measure of the spike time shift caused by perturbations of the membrane potential as a function of the phase of the spike cycle of a neuron. Near the rheobase, purely positive (type I) phase-response curves are associated with an onset of repetitive firing through a saddle-node bifurcation, whereas biphasic (type II) phase-response curves point towards a transition based on a Hopf-Andronov bifurcation. In recordings from layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons in cortical slices, cholinergic action, consistent with down-regulation of slow voltage-dependent potassium currents such as the M-current, switched the PRC from type II to type I. This is the first report showing that cholinergic neuromodulation may cause a qualitative switch in the PRCs type implying a change in the fundamental dynamical mechanism of spike generation.
Networks of model neurons were constructed and their activity was predicted using an iterated map based solely on the phase resetting curves (PRCs). The predictions were quite accurate provided that the resetting to simultaneous inputs was calculated using the sum of the simultaneously active conductances, obviating the need for weak coupling assumptions. Fully synchronous activity was observed only when the slope of the PRC at a phase of zero, corresponding to spike initiation, was positive. A novel stability criterion was developed and tested for all to all networks of identical, identically connected neurons. When the PRC generated using N-1 simultaneously active inputs becomes too steep, the fully synchronous mode loses stability in a network of N model neurons. Therefore, the stability of synchrony can be lost by increasing the slope of this PRC either by increasing the network size or the strength of the individual synapses. Existence and stability criteria were also developed and tested for the splay mode in which neurons fire sequentially. Finally, N/M synchronous sub-clusters of M neurons were predicted using the intersection of parameters that supported both between cluster splay and within cluster synchrony. Surprisingly, the splay mode between clusters could enforce synchrony on sub-clusters that were incapable of synchronizing themselves. These results can be used to gain insights into the activity of networks of biological neurons whose PRCs can be measured.
Network; Synchronization; Oscillator; Rhythm; Phase shift; Synchrony
We demonstrate that two key theoretical objects used widely in Computational Neuroscience, the phase-resetting curve (PRC) from dynamics and the spike triggered average (STA) from statistical analysis, are closely related when neurons fire in a nearly regular manner and the stimulus is sufficiently small. We prove that the STA due to injected noisy current is proportional to the derivative of the PRC. We compare these analytic results to numerical calculations for the Hodgkin-Huxley neuron and we apply the method to neurons in the olfactory bulb of mice. This observation allows us to relate the stimulus-response properties of a neuron to its dynamics, bridging the gap between dynamical and information theoretic approaches to understanding brain computations and facilitating the interpretation of changes in channels and other cellular properties as influencing the representation of stimuli.
A neuron’s phase response curve (PRC) shows how inputs arriving at different times during the spike cycle differentially affect the timing of subsequent spikes. Using a full morphological model of a globus pallidus (GP) neuron, we previously demonstrated that dendritic conductances shape the PRC in a spike frequency dependent manner, suggesting different functional roles of perisomatic and distal dendritic synapses in the control of patterned network activity. In the present study we extend this analysis to examine the impact of physiologically realistic high conductance states on somatic and dendritic PRCs and the time course of spike train perturbations. First, we found that average somatic and dendritic PRCs preserved their shapes and spike frequency dependence when the model was driven by spatially-distributed, stochastic conductance inputs rather than tonic somatic current. However, responses to inputs during specific synaptic backgrounds often deviated substantially from the average PRC. Therefore, we analyzed the interactions of PRC stimuli with transient fluctuations in the synaptic background on a trial-by-trial basis. We found that the variability in responses to PRC stimuli and the incidence of stimulus-evoked added or skipped spikes were stimulus-phase-dependent and reflected the profile of the average PRC, suggesting commonality in the underlying mechanisms. Clear differences in the relation between the phase of input and variability of spike response between dendritic and somatic inputs indicate that theses regions generally represent distinct dynamical subsystems of synaptic integration with respect to influencing the stability of spike time attractors generated by the overall synaptic conductance.
phase response curve (PRC); high conductance state; stochastic synaptic background; spike time attractor; dendrite; SK current; synchronization; oscillation
Firing-rate models provide an attractive approach for studying large neural networks because they can be simulated rapidly and are amenable to mathematical analysis. Traditional firing-rate models assume a simple form in which the dynamics are governed by a single time constant. These models fail to replicate certain dynamic features of populations of spiking neurons, especially those involving synchronization. We present a complex-valued firing-rate model derived from an eigenfunction expansion of the Fokker-Planck equation and apply it to the linear, quadratic and exponential integrate-and-fire models. Despite being almost as simple as a traditional firing-rate description, this model can reproduce firing-rate dynamics due to partial synchronization of the action potentials in a spiking model, and it successfully predicts the transition to spike synchronization in networks of coupled excitatory and inhibitory neurons.
Neuronal responses are often characterized by the rate at which action potentials are generated rather than by the timing of individual spikes. Firing-rate descriptions of neural activity are appealing because of their comparative simplicity, but it is important to develop models that faithfully approximate dynamic features arising from spiking. In particular, synchronization or partial synchronization of spikes is an important feature that cannot be described by typical firing-rate models. Here we develop a model that is nearly as simple as the simplest firing-rate models and yet can account for a number of aspects of spiking dynamics, including partial synchrony. The model matches the dynamic activity of networks of spiking neurons with surprising accuracy. By expanding the range of dynamic phenomena that can be described by simple firing-rate equations, this model should be useful in guiding intuition about and understanding of neural circuit function.
The infinitesimal phase response curve (PRC) of a neural oscillator to a weak input is a powerful predictor of network dynamics; however, many networks have strong coupling and require direct measurement of the PRC for strong inputs under the assumption of pulsatile coupling. We incorporate measured noise levels in firing time maps constructed from PRCs to predict phase-locked modes of activity, phase difference, and locking strength in 78 heterogeneous hybrid networks of 2 neurons constructed using the dynamic clamp. We show that noise may either destroy or stabilize a phase-locked mode of activity.
Avian nucleus isthmi pars parvocellularis (Ipc) neurons are reciprocally connected with the layer 10 (L10) neurons in the optic tectum and respond with oscillatory bursts to visual stimulation. Our in vitro experiments show that both neuron types respond with regular spiking to somatic current injection and that the feedforward and feedback synaptic connections are excitatory, but of different strength and time course. To elucidate mechanisms of oscillatory bursting in this network of regularly spiking neurons, we investigated an experimentally constrained model of coupled leaky integrate-and-fire neurons with spike-rate adaptation. The model reproduces the observed Ipc oscillatory bursting in response to simulated visual stimulation. A scan through the model parameter volume reveals that Ipc oscillatory burst generation can be caused by strong and brief feedforward synaptic conductance changes. The mechanism is sensitive to the parameter values of spike-rate adaptation. In conclusion, we show that a network of regular-spiking neurons with feedforward excitation and spike-rate adaptation can generate oscillatory bursting in response to a constant input.
Noise-induced complete synchronization and frequency synchronization in coupled spiking and bursting neurons are studied firstly. The effects of noise and coupling are discussed. It is found that bursting neurons are easier to achieve firing synchronization than spiking ones, which means that bursting activities are more important for information transfer in neuronal networks. Secondly, the effects of noise on firing synchronization in a noisy map neuronal network are presented. Noise-induced synchronization and temporal order are investigated by means of the firing rate function and the order index. Firing synchronization and temporal order of excitatory neurons can be greatly enhanced by subthreshold stimuli with resonance frequency. Finally, it is concluded that random perturbations play an important role in firing activities and temporal order in neuronal networks.
Neuronal networks; Synchronization; Resonance; Noise
The functional significance of correlations between action potentials of neurons is still a matter of vivid debate. In particular, it is presently unclear how much synchrony is caused by afferent synchronized events and how much is intrinsic due to the connectivity structure of cortex. The available analytical approaches based on the diffusion approximation do not allow to model spike synchrony, preventing a thorough analysis. Here we theoretically investigate to what extent common synaptic afferents and synchronized inputs each contribute to correlated spiking on a fine temporal scale between pairs of neurons. We employ direct simulation and extend earlier analytical methods based on the diffusion approximation to pulse-coupling, allowing us to introduce precisely timed correlations in the spiking activity of the synaptic afferents. We investigate the transmission of correlated synaptic input currents by pairs of integrate-and-fire model neurons, so that the same input covariance can be realized by common inputs or by spiking synchrony. We identify two distinct regimes: In the limit of low correlation linear perturbation theory accurately determines the correlation transmission coefficient, which is typically smaller than unity, but increases sensitively even for weakly synchronous inputs. In the limit of high input correlation, in the presence of synchrony, a qualitatively new picture arises. As the non-linear neuronal response becomes dominant, the output correlation becomes higher than the total correlation in the input. This transmission coefficient larger unity is a direct consequence of non-linear neural processing in the presence of noise, elucidating how synchrony-coded signals benefit from these generic properties present in cortical networks.
Whether spike timing conveys information in cortical networks or whether the firing rate alone is sufficient is a matter of controversial debate, touching the fundamental question of how the brain processes, stores, and conveys information. If the firing rate alone is the decisive signal used in the brain, correlations between action potentials are just an epiphenomenon of cortical connectivity, where pairs of neurons share a considerable fraction of common afferents. Due to membrane leakage, small synaptic amplitudes and the non-linear threshold, nerve cells exhibit lossy transmission of correlation originating from shared synaptic inputs. However, the membrane potential of cortical neurons often displays non-Gaussian fluctuations, caused by synchronized synaptic inputs. Moreover, synchronously active neurons have been found to reflect behavior in primates. In this work we therefore contrast the transmission of correlation due to shared afferents and due to synchronously arriving synaptic impulses for leaky neuron models. We not only find that neurons are highly sensitive to synchronous afferents, but that they can suppress noise on signals transmitted by synchrony, a computational advantage over rate signals.
Neural mass signals from in-vivo recordings often show oscillations with frequencies ranging from <1 to 100 Hz. Fast rhythmic activity in the beta and gamma range can be generated by network-based mechanisms such as recurrent synaptic excitation-inhibition loops. Slower oscillations might instead depend on neuronal adaptation currents whose timescales range from tens of milliseconds to seconds. Here we investigate how the dynamics of such adaptation currents contribute to spike rate oscillations and resonance properties in recurrent networks of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. Based on a network of sparsely coupled spiking model neurons with two types of adaptation current and conductance-based synapses with heterogeneous strengths and delays we use a mean-field approach to analyze oscillatory network activity. For constant external input, we find that spike-triggered adaptation currents provide a mechanism to generate slow oscillations over a wide range of adaptation timescales as long as recurrent synaptic excitation is sufficiently strong. Faster rhythms occur when recurrent inhibition is slower than excitation and oscillation frequency increases with the strength of inhibition. Adaptation facilitates such network-based oscillations for fast synaptic inhibition and leads to decreased frequencies. For oscillatory external input, adaptation currents amplify a narrow band of frequencies and cause phase advances for low frequencies in addition to phase delays at higher frequencies. Our results therefore identify the different key roles of neuronal adaptation dynamics for rhythmogenesis and selective signal propagation in recurrent networks.
spike frequency adaptation; adaptation; oscillations; rate models; network dynamics; Fokker–Planck; mean-field; recurrent network