Dynamical patterns underlying response properties of cortical circuits

J R Soc Interface. 2018 Mar;15(140):20170960. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2017.0960.


Recent experimental studies show cortical circuit responses to external stimuli display varied dynamical properties. These include stimulus strength-dependent population response patterns, a shift from synchronous to asynchronous states and a decline in neural variability. To elucidate the mechanisms underlying these response properties and explore how they are mechanistically related, we develop a neural circuit model that incorporates two essential features widely observed in the cerebral cortex. The first feature is a balance between excitatory and inhibitory inputs to individual neurons; the second feature is distance-dependent connectivity. We show that applying a weak external stimulus to the model evokes a wave pattern propagating along lateral connections, but a strong external stimulus triggers a localized pattern; these stimulus strength-dependent population response patterns are quantitatively comparable with those measured in experimental studies. We identify network mechanisms underlying this population response, and demonstrate that the dynamics of population-level response patterns can explain a range of prominent features in neural responses, including changes to the dynamics of neurons' membrane potentials and synaptic inputs that characterize the shift of cortical states, and the stimulus-evoked decline in neuron response variability. Our study provides a unified population activity pattern-based view of diverse cortical response properties, thus shedding new insights into cortical processing.

Keywords: asynchronous state; balanced excitation and inhibition; cortical circuits; neural response properties; neural variability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*