Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Syst. Neurosci., 12 March 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2012.00006

Input dependent cell assembly dynamics in a model of the striatal medium spiny neuron network

  • Neurobiology Research Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Okinawa, Japan

The striatal medium spiny neuron (MSN) network is sparsely connected with fairly weak GABAergic collaterals receiving an excitatory glutamatergic cortical projection. Peri-stimulus time histograms (PSTH) of MSN population response investigated in various experimental studies display strong firing rate modulations distributed throughout behavioral task epochs. In previous work we have shown by numerical simulation that sparse random networks of inhibitory spiking neurons with characteristics appropriate for UP state MSNs form cell assemblies which fire together coherently in sequences on long behaviorally relevant timescales when the network receives a fixed pattern of constant input excitation. Here we first extend that model to the case where cortical excitation is composed of many independent noisy Poisson processes and demonstrate that cell assembly dynamics is still observed when the input is sufficiently weak. However if cortical excitation strength is increased more regularly firing and completely quiescent cells are found, which depend on the cortical stimulation. Subsequently we further extend previous work to consider what happens when the excitatory input varies as it would when the animal is engaged in behavior. We investigate how sudden switches in excitation interact with network generated patterned activity. We show that sequences of cell assembly activations can be locked to the excitatory input sequence and outline the range of parameters where this behavior is shown. Model cell population PSTH display both stimulus and temporal specificity, with large population firing rate modulations locked to elapsed time from task events. Thus the random network can generate a large diversity of temporally evolving stimulus dependent responses even though the input is fixed between switches. We suggest the MSN network is well suited to the generation of such slow coherent task dependent response which could be utilized by the animal in behavior.

Keywords: striatum, computational modeling, inhibition, medium spiny neuron, cell assembly, population dynamics, spiking network

Citation: Ponzi A and Wickens J (2012) Input dependent cell assembly dynamics in a model of the striatal medium spiny neuron network. Front. Syst. Neurosci. 6:6. doi: 10.3389/fnsys.2012.00006

Received: 20 April 2011; Accepted: 04 February 2012;
Published online: 12 March 2012.

Edited by:

Charles J. Wilson, University of Texas at San Antonio, USA

Reviewed by:

Joshua D. Berke, University of Michigan, USA
Mark D. Humphries, Group for Neural Theory, LNC, DEC, ENS, France

Copyright: © 2012 Ponzi and Wickens. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Adam Ponzi, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, 12-22 Suzaki, Uruma-shi, Okinawa, Japan. e-mail: adamp@oist.jp

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