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J Neurosci. 2001 Dec 1;21(23):9460-70.

Synaptic depression mediates bistability in neuronal networks with recurrent inhibitory connectivity.

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Life Sciences Department and Zlotowski Center for Neurosciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel 84105.


When depressing synapses are embedded in a circuit composed of a pacemaker neuron and a neuron with no autorhythmic properties, the network can show two modes of oscillation. In one mode the synapses are mostly depressed, and the oscillations are dominated by the properties of the oscillating neuron. In the other mode, the synapses recover from depression, and the oscillations are primarily controlled by the synapses. We demonstrate the two modes of oscillation in a hybrid circuit consisting of a biological pacemaker and a model neuron, reciprocally coupled via model depressing synapses. We show that across a wide range of parameter values this network shows robust bistability of the oscillation mode and that it is possible to switch the network from one mode to the other by injection of a brief current pulse in either neuron. The underlying mechanism for bistability may be present in many types of circuits with reciprocal connections and synaptic depression.

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