Intrinsic bursting enhances the robustness of a neural network model of sequence generation by avian brain area HVC
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Avian brain area HVC is known to be important for the production of birdsong. In zebra finches, each RA-projecting neuron in HVC emits a single burst of spikes during a song motif. The population of neurons is activated in a precisely timed, stereotyped sequence. We propose a model of these burst sequences that relies on two hypotheses. First, we hypothesize that the sequential order of bursting is reflected in the excitatory synaptic connections between neurons. Second, we propose that the neurons are intrinsically bursting, so that burst duration is set by cellular properties. Our model generates burst sequences similar to those observed in HVC. If intrinsic bursting is removed from the model, burst sequences can also be produced. However, they require more fine-tuning of synaptic strengths, and are therefore less robust. In our model, intrinsic bursting is caused by dendritic calcium spikes, and strong spike frequency adaptation in the soma contributes to burst termination.
KeywordsSongbird Associative chaining model Dendritic spike Sequence generation Computational model
Research was supported by The Huck Institute of Life Sciences at the Pennsylvania State University and Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (DZJ), and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (FR, HSS). DZJ thanks the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at University of California, Santa Barbara for partial support of this work. We thank Michael Long, Anthony Leonardo and Michale Fee for useful discussions.
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