BMI Seminar // Susanne Schreiber - Setting network states via the dynamics of action potential generation
To understand neural computation and the dynamics in the brain, we usually focus on the connectivity among neurons. In contrast, the properties of single neurons are often thought to be negligible, at least as far as the activity of networks is concerned. In this talk, I will contradict this notion and demonstrate how the biophysics of action-potential generation can have a decisive impact on network behaviour. Our recent theoretical work shows that, among regularly firing neurons, the somewhat unattended homoclinic type (characterized by a spike onset via a saddle homoclinic orbit bifurcation) particularly stands out: First, spikes of this type foster specific network states - synchronization in inhibitory and splayed-out/frustrated states in excitatory networks. Second, homoclinic spikes can easily be induced by changes in a variety of physiological parameters (like temperature, extracellular potassium, or dendritic morphology). As a consequence, such parameter changes can even induce switches in network states, solely based on a modification of cellular voltage dynamics. I will provide first experimental evidence and discuss functional consequences of homoclinic spikes for the design of efficient pattern-generating motor circuits in insects as well as for mammalian pathologies like febrile seizures. Our analysis predicts an interesting role for homoclinic action potentials as an integral part of brain dynamics in both health and disease.
- Informed public
- Alexander Mathis, Brain Mind Institute