Information processing in higher brain structures is thought to rely on the synchronization of spiking neurons. Increasing evidence indicates that, within these structures, inhibitory neurons are linked by both chemical and electrical synapses. However, how synchronized states may emerge from such circuits is not fully understood. Using snail neurons interconnected through a dynamic-clamp system, we show that networks of spiking neurons linked by both reciprocal inhibition and electrical coupling can express two coexisting coordination patterns of different rhythms. One of these patterns consists of antiphase firing of the network partners whereas, in the other, neurons fire synchronously. Switching between patterns may be evoked immediately by transient stimuli, demonstrating bistability of the network. Thus electrical coupling can provide a potent way for instantaneous reconfiguration of activity patterns in inhibitory spiking networks without alteration of intrinsic network properties by modulatory processes.
- Dynamic clamp
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