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Armstrong, E, Abarbanel HDI.  2016.  Model of the songbird nucleus HVC as a network of central pattern generators. Journal of Neurophysiology. 116:2405-2419.   10.1152/jn.00438.2016   AbstractWebsite

We propose a functional architecture of the adult songbird nucleus HVC in which the core element is a "functional syllable unit" (FSU). In this model, HVC is organized into FSUs, each of which provides the basis for the production of one syllable in vocalization. Within each FSU, the inhibitory neuron population takes one of two operational states: 1) simultaneous firing wherein all inhibitory neurons fire simultaneously, and 2) competitive firing of the inhibitory neurons. Switching between these basic modes of activity is accomplished via changes in the synaptic strengths among the inhibitory neurons. The inhibitory neurons connect to excitatory projection neurons such that during state 1 the activity of projection neurons is suppressed, while during state 2 patterns of sequential firing of projection neurons can occur. The latter state is stabilized by feedback from the projection to the inhibitory neurons. Song composition for specific species is distinguished by the manner in which different FSUs are functionally connected to each other. Ours is a computational model built with biophysically based neurons. We illustrate that many observations of HVC activity are explained by the dynamics of the proposed population of FSUs, and we identify aspects of the model that are currently testable experimentally. In addition, and standing apart from the core features of an FSU, we propose that the transition between modes may be governed by the biophysical mechanism of neuromodulation.

Szucs, A, Pinto RD, Rabinovich MI, Abarbanel HDI, Selverston AI.  2003.  Synaptic modulation of the interspike interval signatures of bursting pyloric neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology. 89:1363-1377.   10.1152/jn.00732.2002   AbstractWebsite

The pyloric network of the lobster stomatogastric nervous system is one of the best described assemblies of oscillatory neurons producing bursts of action potentials. While the temporal patterns of bursts have been investigated in detail, those of spikes have received less attention. Here we analyze the intraburst firing patterns of pyloric neurons and the synaptic interactions shaping their dynamics in millisecond time scales not performed before. We find that different pyloric neurons express characteristic, cell-specific firing patterns in their bursts. Nonlinear analysis of the interspike intervals (ISIs) reveals distinctive temporal structures ('interspike interval signatures'), which are found to depend on the synaptic connectivity of the network. We compare ISI patterns of the pyloric dilator (PD), lateral pyloric (LP), and ventricular dilator (VD) neurons in 1) normal conditions, 2) after blocking glutamatergic synaptic connections, and 3) in various functional configurations of the three neurons. Manipulation of the synaptic connectivity results in characteristic changes in the ISI signatures of the postsynaptic neurons. The intraburst firing pattern of the PD neuron is regularized by the inhibitory synaptic connection from the LP neuron as revealed in current-clamp experiments and also as reconstructed with a dynamic clamp. On the other hand, mutual inhibition between the LP and VD neurons tend to produce more irregular bursts with increased spike jitter. The results show that synaptic interactions tine-tune the output of pyloric neurons. The present data also suggest a way of processing of synaptic information: bursting neurons are capable of encoding incoming signals by altering the tine structure of their intraburst spike patterns.