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Attractor dynamics in local neuronal networks
BMC Neuroscience volume 14, Article number: P386 (2013)
A hallmark feature of cortical networks is the presence of synaptic motifs, defined as ensembles of neurons whose synaptic pattern follows a particular configuration . Simulated networks of neurons whose excitatory synapses follow a three-node "relay" motif (Figure 1A)-the most frequent motif in primate visual cortex- exhibit synchronization with zero time lag , a form of activity reported in a spectrum of experiments . Here, using simulations of leaky integrate-and-fire networks (LIF) as well as mean-field stability analyses, we show that this relay motif promotes the emergence of a limit cycle whose period is determined by intrinsic properties of the model (Figure 1B). While cortical recordings show evidence of limit-cycle oscillations , this behavior is typically transient in non-pathological states. The question thus arises, of how to generate transient yet precise synchronization under different forms of motif connectivity. To address this question, we introduce a mechanism of selective gain inhibition by which cortical circuits may disengage from a strict limit cycle behavior. This mechanism works by tuning the gain inhibition  of a selective population of neurons in the model. In a first series of simulations, we show that applying selective gain inhibition to one population of a network (Figure 1A, shown in black) disengages the network from a limit cycle behaviour (Figure 1C). Next, we examine the effect of selective gain inhibition on a network's response to an incoming stimulus and show that transient synchronization arises in response to a time-delimited input current (Figure 1D). Selective gain inhibition enables stimulus-induced synchronization under strong stimulation and suppresses zero-lag synchrony under weak stimulation (Figure 1E). Transient synchronization would not be possible without selective gain inhibition, given that a network configured with a "relay" motif follows a limit cycle attractor (Figure 1B). We conclude that a "relay' motif of connectivity imposes strict constraints on the types of dynamics produced by a network under both spontaneous and evoked states. Going further, results of simulations suggest that a mechanism of selective gain inhibition breaks the rigid constraints imposed by synaptic connectivity, providing flexible and transient responses to incoming stimuli.
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This work was supported by a grant from the NAKFI Keck Future Initiatives to J.P.T. as well as start-up funds to J.P.T. from the University of Ottawa. Authors are thankful to Eric Shea-Brown for useful discussions.
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Comas, R., Longtin, A. & Thivierge, J. Attractor dynamics in local neuronal networks. BMC Neurosci 14, P386 (2013) doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-S1-P386
- Primate Visual Cortex
- Attractor Dynamic
- Synaptic Connectivity
- Rigid Constraint
- Incoming Stimulus