Dynamic information encoding with dynamic synapses in neural adaptation

Luozheng Li, Yuanyuan Mi, Wenhao Zhang, Da Hui Wang, Si Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Adaptation refers to the general phenomenon that the neural systemdynamically adjusts its response property according to the statistics of external inputs. In response to an invariant stimulation, neuronal firing rates first increase dramatically and then decrease gradually to a low level close to the background activity. This prompts a question: during the adaptation, how does the neural system encode the repeated stimulation with attenuated firing rates? It has been suggested that the neural system may employ a dynamical encoding strategy during the adaptation, the information of stimulus is mainly encoded by the strong independent spiking of neurons at the early stage of the adaptation; while the weak but synchronized activity of neurons encodes the stimulus information at the later stage of the adaptation. The previous study demonstrated that short-term facilitation (STF) of electrical synapses, which increases the synchronization between neurons, can provide a mechanismto realize dynamical encoding. In the present study, we further explore whether short-term plasticity (STP) of chemical synapses, an interaction form more common than electrical synapse in the cortex, can support dynamical encoding. We build a large-size network with chemical synapses between neurons. Notably, facilitation of chemical synapses only enhances pair-wise correlations between neurons mildly, but its effect on increasing synchronization of the network can be significant, and hence it can serve as a mechanism to convey the stimulus information. To read-out the stimulus information, we consider that a downstream neuron receives balanced excitatory and inhibitory inputs from the network, so that the downstream neuron only responds to synchronized firings of the network. Therefore, the response of the downstream neuron indicates the presence of the repeated stimulation. Overall, our study demonstrates that STP of chemical synapse can serve as a mechanism to realize dynamical neural encoding. We believe that our study shed lights on the mechanism underlying the efficient neural information processing via adaptation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
StatePublished - Mar 27 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Balanced input
  • Dynamical coding
  • Dynamical synapse
  • Short-term plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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