Conversion from spatial patterns of activity to sequences of neuronal activations using gate interneurons
© Conde-Sousa and Aguiar; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Published: 8 July 2013
Activities such as playing the piano or moving a hand to a particular object and grab it require the execution of a finite sequence of actions. Long-term learning processes make the replication of these activities natural and reliable. The work presented here focus on the problem of using spatial neuronal activity patterns (specific constellations of neurons which become active within a short time window) to specify different sequences of activations on a population encoding learned elementary actions. Consider, for example, the case where each neuron or synchronized group of neurons in the premotor cortex triggers an elementary movement (e.g. basic movements of an arm). Different basic movements should be arranged in sequences depending if the goal is to grab an object from a table, or catch it in flight. Distinct complex actions are therefore specified by different sequences of neuronal activations in the same population [1, 2], and each sequence must be recovered as a whole unit.
In the proposed model, an action that needs the activation of principal neuron A followed by the activation of principal neurons B, requires the activity of a gate interneuron responsible coding the sequential pattern AB. If gate interneuron AB is not active, then the sequence will not proceed to B and will flow to another principal neuron, depending which other gate interneurons are available. Consider, as in Figure 1C, a network of 16 principal neurons (or groups of synchronous neurons represented by one unit in the model). To execute some complex action it may be needed to follow the sequence 1→4→12→6→10→15 while in another complex action it may be required to follow the sequence 1→5→14→7→8→2, both starting in neuron 1. Depending on which gate interneurons are previously activated (spatial patterns labeled in gray and black in Figure 1B,C), the sequence may follow the first path (labeled in gray), or the second (labeled in black).
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