The interconnectivity between excitatory and inhibitory neural networks informs mechanisms by which rhythmic bursts of excitatory activity can be produced in the brain. One such mechanism, Pyramidal Interneuron Network Gamma (PING), relies primarily upon reciprocal connectivity between the excitatory and inhibitory networks, while also including intra-connectivity of inhibitory cells. The causal relationship between excitatory activity and the subsequent burst of inhibitory activity is of paramount importance to the mechanism and has been well studied. However, the role of the intra-connectivity of the inhibitory network, while important for PING, has not been studied in detail, as most analyses of PING simply assume that inhibitory intra-connectivity is strong enough to suppress subsequent firing following the initial inhibitory burst. In this paper we investigate the role that the strength of inhibitory intra-connectivity plays in determining the dynamics of PING-style networks. We show that networks with weak inhibitory intra-connectivity exhibit variations in burst dynamics of both the excitatory and inhibitory cells that are not obtained with strong inhibitory intra-connectivity. Networks with weak inhibitory intra-connectivity exhibit excitatory rhythmic bursts with weak excitatory-to-inhibitory synapses for which classical PING networks would show no rhythmic activity. Additionally, variations in dynamics of these networks as the excitatory-to-inhibitory synaptic weight increases illustrates the important role that consistent pattern formation in the inhibitory cells serves in maintaining organized and periodic excitatory bursts. Finally, motivated by these results and the known diversity of interneurons, we show that a PING-style network with two inhibitory subnetworks, one strongly intra-connected and one weakly intra-connected, exhibits organized and periodic excitatory activity over a larger parameter regime than networks with a homogeneous inhibitory population. Taken together, these results serve to better articulate the role of inhibitory intra-connectivity in generating PING-like rhythms, while also revealing how heterogeneity amongst inhibitory synapses might make such rhythms more robust to a variety of network parameters.
Keywords: E-I network; PING; computational model; heterogeneity; interneurons; oscillations; rhythms.