Spike timing is believed to be a key factor in sensory information encoding and computations performed by the neurons and neuronal circuits. However, the considerable noise and variability, arising from the inherently stochastic mechanisms that exist in the neurons and the synapses, degrade spike timing precision. Computational modeling can help decipher the mechanisms utilized by the neuronal circuits in order to regulate timing precision. In this paper, we utilize semi-analytical techniques, which were adapted from previously developed methods for electronic circuits, for the stochastic characterization of neuronal circuits. These techniques, which are orders of magnitude faster than traditional Monte Carlo type simulations, can be used to directly compute the spike timing jitter variance, power spectral densities, correlation functions, and other stochastic characterizations of neuronal circuit operation. We consider three distinct neuronal circuit motifs: Feedback inhibition, synaptic integration, and synaptic coupling. First, we show that both the spike timing precision and the energy efficiency of a spiking neuron are improved with feedback inhibition. We unveil the underlying mechanism through which this is achieved. Then, we demonstrate that a neuron can improve on the timing precision of its synaptic inputs, coming from multiple sources, via synaptic integration: The phase of the output spikes of the integrator neuron has the same variance as that of the sample average of the phases of its inputs. Finally, we reveal that weak synaptic coupling among neurons, in a fully connected network, enables them to behave like a single neuron with a larger membrane area, resulting in an improvement in the timing precision through cooperation.
Journal of Computational Neuroscience – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 17, 2018
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