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Creators/Authors contains: "Slepukhin, Valentin M."

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  1. The preBötzinger Complex (preBötC) encodes inspiratory time as rhythmic bursts of activity underlying each breath. Spike synchronization throughout a sparsely connected preBötC microcircuit initiates bursts that ultimately drive the inspiratory motor patterns. Using minimal microcircuit models to explore burst initiation dynamics, we examined the variability in probability and latency to burst following exogenous stimulation of a small subset of neurons, mimicking experiments. Among various physiologically plausible graphs of 1000 excitatory neurons constructed using experimentally determined synaptic and connectivity parameters, directed Erdős-Rényi graphs with a broad (lognormal) distribution of synaptic weights best captured the experimentally observed dynamics. preBötC synchronization leading to bursts was regulated by the efferent connectivity of spiking neurons that are optimally tuned to amplify modest preinspiratory activity through input convergence. Using graph-theoretic and machine learning-based analyses, we found that input convergence of efferent connectivity at the next-nearest neighbor order was a strong predictor of incipient synchronization. Our analyses revealed a crucial role of synaptic heterogeneity in imparting exceptionally robust yet flexible preBötC attractor dynamics. Given the pervasiveness of lognormally distributed synaptic strengths throughout the nervous system, we postulate that these mechanisms represent a ubiquitous template for temporal processing and decision-making computational motifs.

    SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTMammalian breathing is robust, virtually continuous throughout life, yet is inherently labile: to adapt to rapid metabolic shifts (e.g., fleeing a predator or chasing prey); for airway reflexes; and to enable nonventilatory behaviors (e.g., vocalization, breathholding, laughing). Canonical theoretical frameworks—based on pacemakers and intrinsic bursting—cannot account for the observed robustness and flexibility of the preBötzinger Complex rhythm. Experiments reveal that network synchronization is the key to initiate inspiratory bursts in each breathing cycle. We investigated preBötC synchronization dynamics using network models constructed with experimentally determined neuronal and synaptic parameters. We discovered that a fat-tailed (non-Gaussian) synaptic weight distribution—a manifestation of synaptic heterogeneity—augments neuronal synchronization and attractor dynamics in this vital rhythmogenic network, contributing to its extraordinary reliability and responsiveness.

     
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  2. null (Ed.)
    We consider the propagation of tension along specific filaments of a semiflexible filament network in response to the application of a point force using a combination of numerical simulations and analytic theory. We find the distribution of force within the network is highly heterogeneous, with a small number of fibers supporting a significant fraction of the applied load over distances of multiple mesh sizes surrounding the point of force application. We suggest that these structures may be thought of as tensile force chains, whose structure we explore via simulation. We develop self-consistent calculations of the point-force response function and introduce a transfer matrix approach to explore the decay of tension (into bending) energy and the branching of tensile force chains in the network. 
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  3. Motivated by the observation of the storage of excess elastic free energy -- prestress in cross linked semiflexible filament networks, we consider the problem of the conformational statistics of a single semiflexible polymer in a quenched random potential. The random potential, which represents the effect of cross linking to other filaments is assumed to have a finite correlation length and mean strength. We examine the statistical distribution of curvature in the limit that the filaments are much shorter than their thermal persistence length. We compare our theoretical predictions to finite element Brownian dynamics simulations. Lastly we comment on the validity of replica field techniques in addressing these questions. 
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