Volume 12 Supplement 1
Rate dynamics of the retina-LGN connection
© Heiberg et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2011
Published: 18 July 2011
Firing-rate models provide a practical tool for studying the dynamics of trial- or population-averaged neuronal signals. The derivation or extraction of such models through investigation of the firing-rate response characteristics of ensembles of neurons has been the subject of several studies (see references in ). The majority of these focused on neurons that receive input spikes at a high rate through weak synapses (diffusion approximation). For many neural systems, however, this assumption cannot be justified. One example in the early visual system is the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), where synapses between retinal ganglion cells and relay cells are so strong that single retinal spikes can initiate action potentials in the thalamic targets.
Using a comprehensive numerical approach, we recently studied the firing-rate response properties of leaky integrate-and-fire (LIF) neurons receiving current input through strong synapses . Input spike trains were modeled as inhomogeneous Poisson point processes with sinusoidally modulated rate. Average rates, modulation amplitudes, and phases of the period-averaged spike responses were measured for a broad range of stimulus, synapse, and neuron parameters, cf Fig. 1. We found that the resulting responses could be described well by a linear first-order low-pass filter over a wide range of model parameters. Combining this filter with the nonlinear response characteristic for stationary inputs, we constructed a linear-nonlinear firing-rate model, which accurately predicted the population response for a variety of non-sinusoidal test stimuli.
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