A database of computational models of a half-center oscillator for analyzing how neuronal parameters influence network activity

J Biol Phys. 2011 Jun;37(3):263-83. doi: 10.1007/s10867-011-9215-y. Epub 2011 Feb 12.


A half-center oscillator (HCO) is a common circuit building block of central pattern generator networks that produce rhythmic motor patterns in animals. Here we constructed an efficient relational database table with the resulting characteristics of the Hill et al.'s (J Comput Neurosci 10:281-302, 2001) HCO simple conductance-based model. The model consists of two reciprocally inhibitory neurons and replicates the electrical activity of the oscillator interneurons of the leech heartbeat central pattern generator under a variety of experimental conditions. Our long-range goal is to understand how this basic circuit building block produces functional activity under a variety of parameter regimes and how different parameter regimes influence stability and modulatability. By using the latest developments in computer technology, we simulated and stored large amounts of data (on the order of terabytes). We systematically explored the parameter space of the HCO and corresponding isolated neuron models using a brute-force approach. We varied a set of selected parameters (maximal conductance of intrinsic and synaptic currents) in all combinations, resulting in about 10 million simulations. We classified these HCO and isolated neuron model simulations by their activity characteristics into identifiable groups and quantified their prevalence. By querying the database, we compared the activity characteristics of the identified groups of our simulated HCO models with those of our simulated isolated neuron models and found that regularly bursting neurons compose only a small minority of functional HCO models; the vast majority was composed of spiking neurons.

Keywords: Automated analysis; Bursting; Central pattern generator; Database; Isolated neuron; Large datasets; Oscillation; Parameter variation; Simulation.