Article: article from journal or magazin.
Timing of network synchronization by refractory mechanisms.
Journal of Neurophysiology
Even without active pacemaker mechanisms, temporally patterned synchronization of neural network activity can emerge spontaneously and is involved in neural development and information processing. Generation of spontaneous synchronization is thought to arise as an alternating sequence between a state of elevated excitation followed by a period of quiescence associated with neuronal and/or synaptic refractoriness. However, the cellular factors controlling recruitment and timing of synchronized events have remained difficult to specify, although the specific temporal pattern of spontaneous rhythmogenesis determines its impact on developmental processes. We studied spontaneous synchronization in a model of 600-1,000 integrate-and-fire neurons interconnected with a probability of 5-30%. One-third of neurons generated spontaneous discharges and provided a background of intrinsic activity to the network. The heterogeneity and random coupling of these neurons maintained this background activity asynchronous. Refractoriness was modeled either by use-dependent synaptic depression or by cellular afterhyperpolarization. In both cases, the recruitment of neurons into spontaneous synchronized discharges was determined by the interplay of refractory mechanisms with stochastic fluctuations in background activity. Subgroups of easily recruitable neurons served as amplifiers of these fluctuations, thereby initiating a cascade-like recruitment of neurons ("avalanche effect"). In contrast, timing depended on the precise implementation of neuronal refractoriness and synaptic connectivity. With synaptic depression, neuronal synchronization always occurred stochastically, whereas with cellular afterhyperpolarization, stochastic turned into periodic behavior with increasing synaptic strength. These results associate the type of refractory mechanism with the temporal statistics and the mechanism of synchronization, thereby providing a framework for differentiating between cellular mechanisms of spontaneous rhythmogenesis.
Action Potentials, Algorithms, Electrophysiology, Models, Neurological, Neural Networks (Computer), Neural Pathways, Refractory Period, Electrophysiological, Synapses
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