Dynamics of spiking neurons: Between homogeneity and synchrony

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Randomly connected networks of neurons driven by Poisson inputs are often assumed to produce "homogeneous" dynamics, characterized by largely independent firing and approximable by diffusion processes. At the same time, it is well known that such networks can fire synchronously. Between these two much studied scenarios lies a vastly complex dynamical landscape that is relatively unexplored. In this paper, we discuss a phenomenon which commonly manifests in these intermediate regimes, namely brief spurts of spiking activity which we call multiple firing events (MFE). These events do not depend on structured network architecture nor on structured input; they are an emergent property of the system. We came upon them in an earlier modeling paper, in which we discovered, through a careful benchmarking process, that MFEs are the single most important dynamical mechanism behind many of the V1 phenomena we were able to replicate. In this paper we explain in a simpler setting how MFEs come about, as well as their potential dynamic consequences. Although the mechanism underlying MFEs cannot easily be captured by current population dynamics models, this phenomena should not be ignored during analysis; there is a growing body of evidence that such collaborative activity may be a key towards unlocking the possible functional properties of many neuronal networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-460
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Computational Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Emergent dynamics
  • Multiple firing events
  • Spiking neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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