Connectivity reflects coding: a model of voltage-based STDP with homeostasis

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Electrophysiological connectivity patterns in cortex often have a few strong connections, which are sometimes bidirectional, among a lot of weak connections. To explain these connectivity patterns, we created a model of spike timing–dependent plasticity (STDP) in which synaptic changes depend on presynaptic spike arrival and the postsynaptic membrane potential, filtered with two different time constants. Our model describes several nonlinear effects that are observed in STDP experiments, as well as the voltage dependence of plasticity. We found that, in a simulated recurrent network of spiking neurons, our plasticity rule led not only to development of localized receptive fields but also to connectivity patterns that reflect the neural code. For temporal coding procedures with spatio-temporal input correlations, strong connections were predominantly unidirectional, whereas they were bidirectional under rate-coded input with spatial correlations only. Thus, variable connectivity patterns in the brain could reflect different coding principles across brain areas; moreover, our simulations suggested that plasticity is fast.

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Figure 1: Illustration of the model.
Figure 2: Fitting the model to experimental data.
Figure 3: Burst timing–dependent plasticity.
Figure 4: Weight evolution in an all-to-all connected network of ten neurons.
Figure 5: Plasticity during rate coding.
Figure 6: Temporal-coding procedure.
Figure 7: Receptive fields development.


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This work was supported by the European project FACETS and the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Author information

C.C. developed the model and carried out the experiments. L.B. and E.V. participated in discussions. W.G. supervised the project and wrote most of the manuscript.

Correspondence to Claudia Clopath.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Text and Figures

Supplementary Figures 1–3 and Supplementary Methods (PDF 803 kb)

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Clopath, C., Büsing, L., Vasilaki, E. et al. Connectivity reflects coding: a model of voltage-based STDP with homeostasis. Nat Neurosci 13, 344–352 (2010) doi:10.1038/nn.2479

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