Journal of Computational Neuroscience

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 341–362 | Cite as

Spike timing precision of neuronal circuits

  • Deniz Kilinc
  • Alper Demir


Spike timing is believed to be a key factor in sensory information encoding and computations performed by the neurons and neuronal circuits. However, the considerable noise and variability, arising from the inherently stochastic mechanisms that exist in the neurons and the synapses, degrade spike timing precision. Computational modeling can help decipher the mechanisms utilized by the neuronal circuits in order to regulate timing precision. In this paper, we utilize semi-analytical techniques, which were adapted from previously developed methods for electronic circuits, for the stochastic characterization of neuronal circuits. These techniques, which are orders of magnitude faster than traditional Monte Carlo type simulations, can be used to directly compute the spike timing jitter variance, power spectral densities, correlation functions, and other stochastic characterizations of neuronal circuit operation. We consider three distinct neuronal circuit motifs: Feedback inhibition, synaptic integration, and synaptic coupling. First, we show that both the spike timing precision and the energy efficiency of a spiking neuron are improved with feedback inhibition. We unveil the underlying mechanism through which this is achieved. Then, we demonstrate that a neuron can improve on the timing precision of its synaptic inputs, coming from multiple sources, via synaptic integration: The phase of the output spikes of the integrator neuron has the same variance as that of the sample average of the phases of its inputs. Finally, we reveal that weak synaptic coupling among neurons, in a fully connected network, enables them to behave like a single neuron with a larger membrane area, resulting in an improvement in the timing precision through cooperation.


Spike timing precision Semi-analytical methods Non Monte Carlo analysis Feedback inhibition Synaptic coupling Synaptic integration 



This work was supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) under project 111E188.

The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful and detailed feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Electrical & Electronics EngineeringKoç UniversityIstanbulTurkey

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