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Biol Cybern. 1993;68(5):393-407.

Rapid synchronization through fast threshold modulation.

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Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University, MA 02215.


Synchronization properties of locally coupled neural oscillators were investigated analytically and by computer simulation. When coupled in a manner that mimics excitatory chemical synapses, oscillators having more than one time scale (relaxation oscillators) are shown to approach synchrony using mechanisms very different from that of oscillators with a more sinusoidal waveform. The relaxation oscillators make critical use of fast modulations of their thresholds, leading to a rate of synchronization relatively independent of coupling strength within some basin of attraction; this rate is faster for oscillators that have conductance-based features than for neural caricatures such as the FitzHugh-Nagumo equations that lack such features. Computer simulations of one-dimensional arrays show that oscillators in the relaxation regime synchronize much more rapidly than oscillators with the same equations whose parameters have been modulated to yield a more sinusoidal waveform. We present a heuristic explanation of this effect based on properties of the coupling mechanisms that can affect the way the synchronization scales with array length. These results suggest that the emergent synchronization behavior of oscillating neural networks can be dramatically influenced by the intrinsic properties of the network components. Possible implications for perceptual feature binding and attention are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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