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Excitatory, Inhibitory, and Structural Plasticity Produce Correlated Connectivity in Random Networks Trained to Solve Paired-Stimulus Tasks

By Mark A. Bourjaily and Paul Miller


The pattern of connections among cortical excitatory cells with overlapping arbors is non-random. In particular, correlations among connections produce clustering – cells in cliques connect to each other with high probability, but with lower probability to cells in other spatially intertwined cliques. In this study, we model initially randomly connected sparse recurrent networks of spiking neurons with random, overlapping inputs, to investigate what functional and structural synaptic plasticity mechanisms sculpt network connections into the patterns measured in vitro. Our Hebbian implementation of structural plasticity causes a removal of connections between uncorrelated excitatory cells, followed by their random replacement. To model a biconditional discrimination task, we stimulate the network via pairs (A + B, C + D, A + D, and C + B) of four inputs (A, B, C, and D). We find networks that produce neurons most responsive to specific paired inputs – a building block of computation and essential role for cortex – contain the excessive clustering of excitatory synaptic connections observed in cortical slices. The same networks produce the best performance in a behavioral readout of the networks’ ability to complete the task. A plasticity mechanism operating on inhibitory connections, long-term potentiation of inhibition, when combined with structural plasticity, indirectly enhances clustering of excitatory cells via excitatory connections. A rate-dependent (triplet) form of spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) between excitatory cells is less effective and basic STDP is detrimental. Clustering also arises in networks stimulated with single stimuli and in networks undergoing raised levels of spontaneous activity when structural plasticity is combined with functional plasticity. In conclusion, spatially intertwined clusters or cliques of connected excitatory cells can arise via a Hebbian form of structural plasticity operating in initially randomly connected networks

Topics: Neuroscience
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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