Top-Down Modulation on Perceptual Decision with Balanced Inhibition through Feedforward and Feedback Inhibitory Neurons

Cheng Te Wang, Chung Ting Lee, Xiao Jing Wang, Chung Chuan Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent physiological studies have shown that neurons in various regions of the central nervous systems continuously receive noisy excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs in a balanced and covaried fashion. While this balanced synaptic input (BSI) is typically described in terms of maintaining the stability of neural circuits, a number of experimental and theoretical studies have suggested that BSI plays a proactive role in brain functions such as top-down modulation for executive control. Two issues have remained unclear in this picture. First, given the noisy nature of neuronal activities in neural circuits, how do the modulatory effects change if the top-down control implements BSI with different ratios between inhibition and excitation? Second, how is a top-down BSI realized via only excitatory long-range projections in the neocortex? To address the first issue, we systematically tested how the inhibition/excitation ratio affects the accuracy and reaction times of a spiking neural circuit model of perceptual decision. We defined an energy function to characterize the network dynamics, and found that different ratios modulate the energy function of the circuit differently and form two distinct functional modes. To address the second issue, we tested BSI with long-distance projection to inhibitory neurons that are either feedforward or feedback, depending on whether these inhibitory neurons do or do not receive inputs from local excitatory cells, respectively. We found that BSI occurs in both cases. Furthermore, when relying on feedback inhibitory neurons, through the recurrent interactions inside the circuit, BSI dynamically and automatically speeds up the decision by gradually reducing its inhibitory component in the course of a trial when a decision process takes too long.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere62379
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 23 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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