Emergent spike patterns in neuronal populations

Logan Chariker, Lai Sang Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This numerical study documents and analyzes emergent spiking behavior in local neuronal populations. Emphasis is given to a phenomenon we call clustering, by which we refer to a tendency of random groups of neurons large and small to spontaneously coordinate their spiking activity in some fashion. Using a sparsely connected network of integrate-and-fire neurons, we demonstrate that spike clustering occurs ubiquitously in both high firing and low firing regimes. As a practical tool for quantifying such spike patterns, we propose a simple scheme with two parameters, one setting the temporal scale and the other the amount of deviation from the mean to be regarded as significant. Viewing population activity as a sequence of events, meaning relatively brief durations of elevated spiking, separated by inter-event times, we observe that background activity tends to give rise to extremely broad distributions of event sizes and inter-event times, while driving a system imposes a certain regularity on its inter-event times, producing a rhythm consistent with broad-band gamma oscillations. We note also that event sizes and inter-event times decorrelate very quickly. Dynamical analyses supported by numerical evidence are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-220
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Computational Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2015


  • Emergent dynamics
  • Neuronal networks
  • Population activity
  • Spike clusters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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