Analytical approximations of the firing rate of an adaptive exponential integrate-and-fire neuron in the presence of synaptic noise.

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Computational models offer a unique tool for understanding the network-dynamical mechanisms which mediate between physiological and biophysical properties, and behavioral function. A traditional challenge in computational neuroscience is, however, that simple neuronal models which can be studied analytically fail to reproduce the diversity of electrophysiological behaviors seen in real neurons, while detailed neuronal models which do reproduce such diversity are intractable analytically and computationally expensive. A number of intermediate models have been proposed whose aim is to capture the diversity of firing behaviors and spike times of real neurons while entailing the simplest possible mathematical description. One such model is the exponential integrate-and-fire neuron with spike rate adaptation (aEIF) which consists of two differential equations for the membrane potential (V) and an adaptation current (w). Despite its simplicity, it can reproduce a wide variety of physiologically observed spiking patterns, can be fit to physiological recordings quantitatively, and, once done so, is able to predict spike times on traces not used for model fitting. Here we compute the steady-state firing rate of aEIF in the presence of Gaussian synaptic noise, using two approaches. The first approach is based on the 2-dimensional Fokker-Planck equation that describes the (V,w)-probability distribution, which is solved using an expansion in the ratio between the time constants of the two variables. The second is based on the firing rate of the EIF model, which is averaged over the distribution of the w variable. These analytically derived closed-form expressions were tested on simulations from a large variety of model cells quantitatively fitted to in vitro electrophysiological recordings from pyramidal cells and interneurons. Theoretical predictions closely agreed with the firing rate of the simulated cells fed with in-vivo-like synaptic noise.





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Hertäg, Loreen, Daniel Durstewitz and Nicolas Brunel (2014). Analytical approximations of the firing rate of an adaptive exponential integrate-and-fire neuron in the presence of synaptic noise. Front Comput Neurosci, 8. p. 116. 10.3389/fncom.2014.00116 Retrieved from

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Nicolas Brunel

Duke School of Medicine Distinguished Professor in Neuroscience

We use theoretical models of brain systems to investigate how they process and learn information from their inputs. Our current work focuses on the mechanisms of learning and memory, from the synapse to the network level, in collaboration with various experimental groups. Using methods from
statistical physics, we have shown recently that the synaptic
connectivity of a network that maximizes storage capacity reproduces
two key experimentally observed features: low connection probability
and strong overrepresentation of bidirectionnally connected pairs of
neurons. We have also inferred `synaptic plasticity rules' (a
mathematical description of how synaptic strength depends on the
activity of pre and post-synaptic neurons) from data, and shown that
networks endowed with a plasticity rule inferred from data have a
storage capacity that is close to the optimal bound.

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