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Creators/Authors contains: "Barranca, Victor J."

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  1. 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. 
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