2019 Oct 25;15(10):e1007432. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1007432. eCollection 2019 Oct.

From space to time: Spatial inhomogeneities lead to the emergence of spatiotemporal sequences in spiking neuronal networks.

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Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
Bernstein Center Freiburg, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.
Computational Science and Technology, School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden.


Spatio-temporal sequences of neuronal activity are observed in many brain regions in a variety of tasks and are thought to form the basis of meaningful behavior. However, mechanisms by which a neuronal network can generate spatio-temporal activity sequences have remained obscure. Existing models are biologically untenable because they either require manual embedding of a feedforward network within a random network or supervised learning to train the connectivity of a network to generate sequences. Here, we propose a biologically plausible, generative rule to create spatio-temporal activity sequences in a network of spiking neurons with distance-dependent connectivity. We show that the emergence of spatio-temporal activity sequences requires: (1) individual neurons preferentially project a small fraction of their axons in a specific direction, and (2) the preferential projection direction of neighboring neurons is similar. Thus, an anisotropic but correlated connectivity of neuron groups suffices to generate spatio-temporal activity sequences in an otherwise random neuronal network model.

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