The role of activity-dependent network depression in the expression and self-regulation of spontaneous activity in the developing spinal cord

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Spontaneous episodic activity occurs throughout the developing nervous system because immature circuits are hyperexcitable. It is not fully understood how the temporal pattern of this activity is regulated. Here, we study the role of activity-dependent depression of network excitability in the generation and regulation of spontaneous activity in the embryonic chick spinal cord. We demonstrate that the duration of an episode of activity depends on the network excitability at the beginning of the episode. We found a positive correlation between episode duration and the preceding inter-episode interval, but not with the following interval, suggesting that episode onset is stochastic whereas episode termination occurs deterministically, when network excitability falls to a fixed level. This is true over a wide range of developmental stages and under blockade of glutamatergic or GABAergic/glycinergic synapses. We also demonstrate that during glutamatergic blockade the remaining part of the network becomes more excitable, compensating for the loss of glutamatergic synapses and allowing spontaneous activity to recover. This compensatory increase in the excitability of the remaining network reflects the progressive increase in synaptic efficacy that occurs in the absence of activity. Therefore, the mechanism responsible for the episodic nature of the activity automatically renders this activity robust to network disruptions. The results are presented using the framework of our computational model of spontaneous activity in the developing cord. Specifically, we show how they follow logically from a bistable network with a slow activity-dependent depression switching periodically between the active and inactive states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8966-8978
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Volume21
Issue number22
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2001

Keywords

  • Activity-dependent depression
  • Chick embryo
  • Homeostasis
  • Network plasticity
  • Spinal cord
  • Spontaneous activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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