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Neuron. 2009 Feb 12;61(3):439-53. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.12.032.

Robust microcircuit synchronization by inhibitory connections.

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  • 1Institute for Nonlinear Science, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0402, USA.


Microcircuits in different brain areas share similar architectural and biophysical properties with compact motor networks known as central pattern generators (CPGs). Consequently, CPGs have been suggested as valuable biological models for understanding of microcircuit dynamics and particularly, their synchronization. We use a well known compact motor network, the lobster pyloric CPG to study principles of intercircuit synchronization. We couple separate pyloric circuits obtained from two animals via artificial synapses and observe how their synchronization depends on the topology and kinetic parameters of the computer-generated synapses. Stable in-phase synchronization appears when electrically coupling the pacemaker groups of the two networks, but reciprocal inhibitory connections produce more robust and regular cooperative activity. Contralateral inhibitory connections offer effective synchronization and flexible setting of the burst phases of the interacting networks. We also show that a conductance-based mathematical model of the coupled circuits correctly reproduces the observed dynamics illustrating the generality of the phenomena.

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