skip to main content


Title: Network and cellular mechanisms underlying heterogeneous excitatory/inhibitory balanced states
Abstract

Recent work has explored spatiotemporal relationships between excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) signaling within neural networks, and the effect of these relationships on network activity patterns. Data from these studies have indicated that excitation and inhibition are maintained at a similar level across long time periods and that excitatory and inhibitory currents may be tightly synchronized. Disruption of this balance—leading to an aberrantE/Iratio—is implicated in various brain pathologies. However, a thorough characterization of the relationship betweenEandIcurrents in experimental settings is largely impossible, due to their tight regulation at multiple cellular and network levels. Here, we use biophysical neural network models to investigate the emergence and properties of balanced states by heterogeneous mechanisms. Our results show that a network can homeostatically regulate theE/Iratio through interactions among multiple cellular and network factors, including average firing rates, synaptic weights and average neural depolarization levels in excitatory/inhibitory populations. Complex and competing interactions between firing rates and depolarization levels allow these factors to alternately dominate network dynamics in different synaptic weight regimes. This leads to the emergence of distinct mechanisms responsible for determining a balanced state and its dynamical correlate. Our analysis provides a comprehensive picture of howE/Iratio changes when manipulating specific network properties, and identifies the mechanisms regulatingE/Ibalance. These results provide a framework to explain the diverse, and in some cases, contradictory experimental observations on theE/Istate in different brain states and conditions.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10457688
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley-Blackwell
Date Published:
Journal Name:
European Journal of Neuroscience
Volume:
51
Issue:
7
ISSN:
0953-816X
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1624-1641
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Recent experimental results have shown that the detection of cues in behavioral attention tasks relies on transient increases of acetylcholine (ACh) release in frontal cortex and cholinergically driven oscillatory activity in the gamma frequency band (Howe et al. Journal of Neuroscience, 2017, 37, 3215). The cue‐induced gamma rhythmic activity requires stimulation of M1 muscarinic receptors. Using biophysical computational modeling, we show that a network of excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) neurons that initially displays asynchronous firing can generate transient gamma oscillatory activity in response to simulated brief pulses of ACh. ACh effects are simulated as transient modulation of the conductance of an M‐type K+current which is blocked by activation of muscarinic receptors and has significant effects on neuronal excitability. The ACh‐induced effects on the M current conductance,gKs, change network dynamics to promote the emergence of network gamma rhythmicity through a Pyramidal‐Interneuronal Network Gamma mechanism. Depending on connectivity strengths between and among E and I cells, gamma activity decays with the simulatedgKstransient modulation or is sustained in the network after thegKstransient has completely dissipated. We investigated the sensitivity of the emergent gamma activity to synaptic strengths, external noise and simulated levels ofgKsmodulation. To address recent experimental findings that cholinergic signaling is likely spatially focused and dynamic, we show that localizedgKsmodulation can induce transient changes of cellular excitability in local subnetworks, subsequently causing population‐specific gamma oscillations. These results highlight dynamical mechanisms underlying localization of ACh‐driven responses and suggest that spatially localized, cholinergically induced gamma may contribute to selectivity in the processing of competing external stimuli, as occurs in attentional tasks.

     
    more » « less
  2. Gjorgjieva, Julijana (Ed.)
    The dynamics of local cortical networks are irregular, but correlated. Dynamic excitatory–inhibitory balance is a plausible mechanism that generates such irregular activity, but it remains unclear how balance is achieved and maintained in plastic neural networks. In particular, it is not fully understood how plasticity induced changes in the network affect balance, and in turn, how correlated, balanced activity impacts learning. How do the dynamics of balanced networks change under different plasticity rules? How does correlated spiking activity in recurrent networks change the evolution of weights, their eventual magnitude, and structure across the network? To address these questions, we develop a theory of spike–timing dependent plasticity in balanced networks. We show that balance can be attained and maintained under plasticity–induced weight changes. We find that correlations in the input mildly affect the evolution of synaptic weights. Under certain plasticity rules, we find an emergence of correlations between firing rates and synaptic weights. Under these rules, synaptic weights converge to a stable manifold in weight space with their final configuration dependent on the initial state of the network. Lastly, we show that our framework can also describe the dynamics of plastic balanced networks when subsets of neurons receive targeted optogenetic input. 
    more » « less
  3. The notion that a neuron transmits the same set of neurotransmitters at all of its post-synaptic connections, typically known as Dale's law, is well supported throughout the majority of the brain and is assumed in almost all theoretical studies investigating the mechanisms for computation in neuronal networks. Dale's law has numerous functional implications in fundamental sensory processing and decision-making tasks, and it plays a key role in the current understanding of the structure-function relationship in the brain. However, since exceptions to Dale's law have been discovered for certain neurons and because other biological systems with complex network structure incorporate individual units that send both positive and negative feedback signals, we investigate the functional implications of network model dynamics that violate Dale's law by allowing each neuron to send out both excitatory and inhibitory signals to its neighbors. We show how balanced network dynamics, in which large excitatory and inhibitory inputs are dynamically adjusted such that input fluctuations produce irregular firing events, are theoretically preserved for a single population of neurons violating Dale's law. We further leverage this single-population network model in the context of two competing pools of neurons to demonstrate that effective decision-making dynamics are also produced, agreeing with experimental observations from honeybee dynamics in selecting a food source and artificial neural networks trained in optimal selection. Through direct comparison with the classical two-population balanced neuronal network, we argue that the one-population network demonstrates more robust balanced activity for systems with less computational units, such as honeybee colonies, whereas the two-population network exhibits a more rapid response to temporal variations in network inputs, as required by the brain. We expect this study will shed light on the role of neurons violating Dale's law found in experiment as well as shared design principles across biological systems that perform complex computations. 
    more » « less
  4. Rubin, Jonathan (Ed.)
    Theta and gamma rhythms and their cross-frequency coupling play critical roles in perception, attention, learning, and memory. Available data suggest that forebrain acetylcholine (ACh) signaling promotes theta-gamma coupling, although the mechanism has not been identified. Recent evidence suggests that cholinergic signaling is both temporally and spatially constrained, in contrast to the traditional notion of slow, spatially homogeneous, and diffuse neuromodulation. Here, we find that spatially constrained cholinergic stimulation can generate theta-modulated gamma rhythms. Using biophysically-based excitatory-inhibitory (E-I) neural network models, we simulate the effects of ACh on neural excitability by varying the conductance of a muscarinic receptor-regulated K + current. In E-I networks with local excitatory connectivity and global inhibitory connectivity, we demonstrate that theta-gamma-coupled firing patterns emerge in ACh modulated network regions. Stable gamma-modulated firing arises within regions with high ACh signaling, while theta or mixed theta-gamma activity occurs at the peripheries of these regions. High gamma activity also alternates between different high-ACh regions, at theta frequency. Our results are the first to indicate a causal role for spatially heterogenous ACh signaling in the emergence of localized theta-gamma rhythmicity. Our findings also provide novel insights into mechanisms by which ACh signaling supports the brain region-specific attentional processing of sensory information. 
    more » « less
  5. Soltani, Alireza (Ed.)
    Cortical circuits generate excitatory currents that must be cancelled by strong inhibition to assure stability. The resulting excitatory-inhibitory (E-I) balance can generate spontaneous irregular activity but, in standard balanced E-I models, this requires that an extremely strong feedforward bias current be included along with the recurrent excitation and inhibition. The absence of experimental evidence for such large bias currents inspired us to examine an alternative regime that exhibits asynchronous activity without requiring unrealistically large feedforward input. In these networks, irregular spontaneous activity is supported by a continually changing sparse set of neurons. To support this activity, synaptic strengths must be drawn from high-variance distributions. Unlike standard balanced networks, these sparse balance networks exhibit robust nonlinear responses to uniform inputs and non-Gaussian input statistics. Interestingly, the speed, not the size, of synaptic fluctuations dictates the degree of sparsity in the model. In addition to simulations, we provide a mean-field analysis to illustrate the properties of these networks. 
    more » « less