Shaping bursting by electrical coupling and noise

Medvedev, Georgi; Zhuravytska, Svitlana
February 2012
Biological Cybernetics;Feb2012, Vol. 106 Issue 2, p67
Academic Journal
Gap-junctional coupling is an important way of communication between neurons and other excitable cells. Strong electrical coupling synchronizes activity across cell ensembles. Surprisingly, in the presence of noise synchronous oscillations generated by an electrically coupled network may differ qualitatively from the oscillations produced by uncoupled individual cells forming the network. A prominent example of such behavior is the synchronized bursting in islets of Langerhans formed by pancreatic �-cells, which in isolation are known to exhibit irregular spiking (Sherman and Rinzel, Biophys J 54:411-425, ; Sherman and Rinzel, Biophys J 59:547-559, ). At the heart of this intriguing phenomenon lies denoising, a remarkable ability of electrical coupling to diminish the effects of noise acting on individual cells. In this paper, building on an earlier analysis of denoising in networks of integrate-and-fire neurons (Medvedev, Neural Comput 21 (11):3057-3078, ) and our recent study of spontaneous activity in a closely related model of the Locus Coeruleus network (Medvedev and Zhuravytska, The geometry of spontaneous spiking in neuronal networks, submitted, ), we derive quantitative estimates characterizing denoising in electrically coupled networks of conductance-based models of square wave bursting cells. Our analysis reveals the interplay of the intrinsic properties of the individual cells and network topology and their respective contributions to this important effect. In particular, we show that networks on graphs with large algebraic connectivity (Fiedler, Czech Math J 23(98):298-305, ) or small total effective resistance (Bollobas, Modern graph theory, Graduate Texts in Mathematics, vol. 184, Springer, New York, ) are better equipped for implementing denoising. As a by-product of the analysis of denoising, we analytically estimate the rate with which trajectories converge to the synchronization subspace and the stability of the latter to random perturbations. These estimates reveal the role of the network topology in synchronization. The analysis is complemented by numerical simulations of electrically coupled conductance-based networks. Taken together, these results explain the mechanisms underlying synchronization and denoising in an important class of biological models.


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