Excitatory and inhibitory STDP jointly tune feedforward neural circuits to selectively propagate correlated spiking activity

Front Comput Neurosci. 2014 May 7;8:53. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2014.00053. eCollection 2014.


Spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) has been well established between excitatory neurons and several computational functions have been proposed in various neural systems. Despite some recent efforts, however, there is a significant lack of functional understanding of inhibitory STDP (iSTDP) and its interplay with excitatory STDP (eSTDP). Here, we demonstrate by analytical and numerical methods that iSTDP contributes crucially to the balance of excitatory and inhibitory weights for the selection of a specific signaling pathway among other pathways in a feedforward circuit. This pathway selection is based on the high sensitivity of STDP to correlations in spike times, which complements a recent proposal for the role of iSTDP in firing-rate based selection. Our model predicts that asymmetric anti-Hebbian iSTDP exceeds asymmetric Hebbian iSTDP for supporting pathway-specific balance, which we show is useful for propagating transient neuronal responses. Furthermore, we demonstrate how STDPs at excitatory-excitatory, excitatory-inhibitory, and inhibitory-excitatory synapses cooperate to improve the pathway selection. We propose that iSTDP is crucial for shaping the network structure that achieves efficient processing of synchronous spikes.

Keywords: STDP; correlation; disynaptic; excitation–inhibition balance; inhibition; plasticity; spike-timing.