Cell Assembly Signatures Defined by Short-Term Synaptic Plasticity in Cortical Networks.

Carrillo-Reid L, Lopez-Huerta VG, Garcia-Munoz M, Theiss S, Arbuthnott GW
Source: Other
Publication Date: (2015)
Issue: 25(7): ePub
Research Area:
Cells used in publication:
Neuron, cortical, mouse
Species: mouse
Tissue Origin: brain
The cell assembly (CA) hypothesis has been used as a conceptual framework to explain how groups of neurons form memories. CAs are defined as neuronal pools with synchronous, recurrent and sequential activity patterns. However, neuronal interactions and synaptic properties that define CAs signatures have been difficult to examine because identities and locations of assembly members are usually unknown. In order to study synaptic properties that define CAs, we used optical and electrophysiological approaches to record activity of identified neurons in mouse cortical cultures. Population analysis and graph theory techniques allowed us to find sequential patterns that represent repetitive transitions between network states. Whole cell pair recordings of neurons participating in repeated sequences demonstrated that synchrony is exhibited by groups of neurons with strong synaptic connectivity (concomitant firing) showing short-term synaptic depression (STD), whereas alternation (sequential firing) is seen in groups of neurons with weaker synaptic connections showing short-term synaptic facilitation (STF). Decreasing synaptic weights of a network promoted the generation of sequential activity patterns, whereas increasing synaptic weights restricted state transitions. Thus in simple cortical networks of real neurons, basic signatures of CAs, the properties that underlie perception and memory in Hebb's original description, are already present.