Synaptic depression and slow oscillatory activity in a biophysical network model of the cerebral cortex

Jose M. Benita, Antoni Guillamon, Gustavo Deco, Maria V. Sanchez-Vives

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25 Citations (Scopus)


Short-term synaptic depression (STD) is a form of synaptic plasticity that has a large impact on network computations. Experimental results suggest that STD is modulated by cortical activity, decreasing with activity in the network and increasing during silent states. Here, we explored different activity-modulation protocols in a biophysical network model for which the model displayed less STD when the network was active than when it was silent, in agreement with experimental results. Furthermore, we studied how trains of synaptic potentials had lesser decay during periods of activity (UP states) than during silent periods (DOWN states), providing new experimental predictions. We next tackled the inverse question of what is the impact of modifying STD parameters on the emergent activity of the network, a question difficult to answer experimentally. We found that synaptic depression of cortical connections had a critical role to determine the regime of rhythmic cortical activity. While low STD resulted in an emergent rhythmic activity with short UP states and long DOWN states, increasing STD resulted in longer and more frequent UP states interleaved with short silent periods. A still higher synaptic depression set the network into a non-oscillatory firing regime where DOWN states no longer occurred. The speed of propagation of UP states along the network was not found to be modulated by STD during the oscillatory regime; it remained relatively stable over a range of values of STD. Overall, we found that the mutual interactions between synaptic depression and ongoing network activity are critical to determine the mechanisms that modulate cortical emergent patterns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20120828
Number of pages1
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
Issue numberAUGUST
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cortical activity
  • Network model
  • Short-term depression
  • Synaptic plasticity
  • Up/down state

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