Skip to main content

Scaling of spike-timing based neuron model for mammalian olfaction with network size

We investigate extensions to the model put forward by Brody and Hopfield [1] for spike-timing based pattern recognition applied to mammalian olfaction. Their model implements a pattern recognition algorithm realized in the dynamics of a network of coupled IF neurons subject to a sine-wave rhythm. Subsets of these neurons can synchronize through the principle of one-to-one mode locking. Their network represents 3 layers of neural activity, the first two of which are inspired by the connectivity of glomeruli and mitral cells in mammalian olfactory circuits and the gamma-rhythm activity observed in the olfactory bulb. Specifically in this model a pattern of glomerular activity representing a given odor causes a particular subset of model mitral cells to synchronize and this synchronous activity can drive a "grandmother" model cortical cell through threshold triggering a recognition event. In this study we quantify the performance of their original model and compare it to our extensions of the model such as using a network-generated rhythm rather than a sine-wave, introducing inhibitive feedback and generalizing to p-q mode locking strategies. We compute the scaling with respect to the number of mitral neurons of a measure of the number of odor patterns the model can recognize. Quite remarkably we find this performance can increase very fast with increasing network size -- consistent with exponential scaling.


  1. 1.

    Brody CD, Hopfield JJ: Simple Networks for Spike-Timing-Based Computation, with Application to Olfactory Processing. Neuron. 2003, 37: 843-852. 10.1016/S0896-6273(03)00120-X.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jan R Engelbrecht.

Rights and permissions

Open Access  This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chen, B., Engelbrecht, J.R. & Mirollo, R. Scaling of spike-timing based neuron model for mammalian olfaction with network size. BMC Neurosci 15, P90 (2014).

Download citation


  • Pattern Recognition
  • Olfactory Bulb
  • Network Size
  • Cortical Cell
  • Neuron Model