Different propagation speeds of recalled sequences in plastic spiking neural networks
Neural networks can generate spatiotemporal patterns of spike activity. Sequential activity learning and retrieval have been observed in many brain areas, and e.g. is crucial for coding of episodic memory in the hippocampus or generating temporal patterns during song production in birds. In a recent study, a sequential activity pattern was directly entrained onto the neural activity of the primary visual cortex (V1) of rats and subsequently successfully recalled by a local and transient trigger. It was observed that the speed of activity propagation in coordinates of the retinotopically organized neural tissue was constant during retrieval regardless how the speed of light stimulation sweeping across the visual field during training was varied. It is well known that spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP) is a potential mechanism for embedding temporal sequences into neural network activity. How training and retrieval speeds relate to each other and how network and learning parameters influence retrieval speeds, however, is not well described. We here theoretically analyze sequential activity learning and retrieval in a recurrent neural network with realistic synaptic short-term dynamics and STDP. Testing multiple STDP rules, we confirm that sequence learning can be achieved by STDP. However, we found that a multiplicative nearest-neighbor (NN) weight update rule generated weight distributions and recall activities that best matched the experiments in V1. Using network simulations and mean-field analysis, we further investigated the learning mechanisms and the influence of network parameters on recall speeds. Our analysis suggests that a multiplicative STDP rule with dominant NN spike interaction might be implemented in V1 since recall speed was almost constant in an NMDA-dominant regime. Interestingly, in an AMPA-dominant regime, neural circuits might exhibit recall speeds that instead follow the change in stimulus speeds. This prediction could be tested in experiments.
Xuhui Huang, Zhigang Zheng, Gang Hu, Si Wu* & Malte J Rasch* (2015). Different propagation speeds of recalled sequences in plastic spiking neural networks. New Journal of Physics 17 035006 (pdf, link)