Formation and maintenance of neuronal assemblies through synaptic plasticity

Nat Commun. 2014 Nov 14:5:5319. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6319.


The architecture of cortex is flexible, permitting neuronal networks to store recent sensory experiences as specific synaptic connectivity patterns. However, it is unclear how these patterns are maintained in the face of the high spike time variability associated with cortex. Here we demonstrate, using a large-scale cortical network model, that realistic synaptic plasticity rules coupled with homeostatic mechanisms lead to the formation of neuronal assemblies that reflect previously experienced stimuli. Further, reverberation of past evoked states in spontaneous spiking activity stabilizes, rather than erases, this learned architecture. Spontaneous and evoked spiking activity contains a signature of learned assembly structures, leading to testable predictions about the effect of recent sensory experience on spike train statistics. Our work outlines requirements for synaptic plasticity rules capable of modifying spontaneous dynamics and shows that this modification is beneficial for stability of learned network architectures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*