Differential control of active and silent phases in relaxation models of neuronal rhythms

Joël Tabak, Michael J. O'Donovan, John Rinzel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rhythmic bursting activity, found in many biological systems, serves a variety of important functions. Such activity is composed of episodes, or bursts (the active phase, AP) that are separated by quiescent periods (the silent phase, SP). Here, we use mean field, firing rate models of excitatory neural network activity to study how AP and SP durations depend on two critical network parameters that control network connectivity and cellular excitability. In these models, the AP and SP correspond to the network's underlying bistability on a fast time scale due to rapid recurrent excitatory connectivity. Activity switches between the AP and SP because of two types of slow negative feedback: synaptic depression - which has a divisive effect on the network input/ output function, or cellular adaptation - a subtractive effect on the input/output function. We show that if a model incorporates the divisive process (regardless of the presence of the subtractive process), then increasing cellular excitability will speed up the activity, mostly by decreasing the silent phase. Reciprocally, if the subtractive process is present, increasing the excitatory connectivity will slow down the activity, mostly by lengthening the active phase. We also show that the model incorporating both slow processes is less sensitive to parameter variations than the models with only one process. Finally, we note that these network models are formally analogous to a type of cellular pacemaker and thus similar results apply to these cellular pacemakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-328
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Computational Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2006


  • Cellular adaptation
  • Episodic activity
  • Excitatory network
  • Mean field model
  • Synaptic depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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