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This article is part of the Research Topic State-Dependent Brain Computation

Perspective ARTICLE

Front. Comput. Neurosci., 01 October 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2012.00077

Brain state-dependent neuronal computation

  • 1Aix Marseille Université, INS, Marseille, France
  • 2Inserm, UMR_S 1106, Marseille, France

Neuronal firing pattern, which includes both the frequency and the timing of action potentials, is a key component of information processing in the brain. Although the relationship between neuronal output (the firing pattern) and function (during a task/behavior) is not fully understood, there is now considerable evidence that a given neuron can show very different firing patterns according to brain state. Thus, such neurons assembled into neuronal networks generate different rhythms (e.g., theta, gamma and sharp wave ripples), which sign specific brain states (e.g., learning, sleep). This implies that a given neuronal network, defined by its hard-wired physical connectivity, can support different brain state-dependent activities through the modulation of its functional connectivity. Here, we review data demonstrating that not only the firing pattern, but also the functional connections between neurons, can change dynamically. We then explore the possible mechanisms of such versatility, focusing on the intrinsic properties of neurons and the properties of the synapses they establish, and how they can be modified by neuromodulators, i.e., the different ways that neurons can use to switch from one mode of communication to the other.

Keywords: oscillation, information processing, brain state, resonance, neuromodulator

Citation: Quilichini PP and Bernard C (2012) Brain state-dependent neuronal computation. Front. Comput. Neurosci. 6:77. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00077

Received: 07 August 2012; Paper pending published: 29 August 2012;
Accepted: 13 September 2012; Published online: 01 October 2012.

Edited by:

Petra Ritter, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany

Reviewed by:

Meng Hu, Drexel University, USA
Katsunori Kitano, Ritsumeikan University, Japan

Copyright © 2012 Quilichini and Bernard. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Pascale P. Quilichini, Inserm UMR_S 1106, 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385 Marseille Cedex 5, France. e-mail: pascale.quilichini@univ-amu.fr