JBiSE  Vol.1 No.1 , May 2008
Possible roles of electrical synapse in temporal information processing: A computational study
Abstract: Temporal information processing in the range of tens to hundreds of milliseconds is critical in many forms of sensory and motor tasks. However, little has been known about the neural mechanisms of temporal information processing. Experimental observations indicate that sensory neurons of the nervous system do not show selective response to temporal properties of external stimuli. On the other hand, temporal selective neurons in the cortex have been reported in many species. Thus, processes which realize the temporal-to-spatial transformation of neuronal activities might be required for temporal information processing. In the present study, we propose a computational model to explore possible roles of electrical synapses in processing the duration of external stimuli. Firstly, we construct a small-scale network with neurons interconnected by electrical synapses in addition to chemical synapses. Basic properties of this small-scale neural network in processing duration information are analyzed. Secondly, a large-scale neural network which is more biologically realistic is further explored. Our results suggest that neural networks with electrical synapses functioning together with chemical synapses can effectively work for the temporal-to-spatial transformation of neuronal activities, and the spatially distributed sequential neural activities can potentially represent temporal information.
Cite this paper: nullWang, X. , Jiang, X. and Liang, P. (2008) Possible roles of electrical synapse in temporal information processing: A computational study. Journal of Biomedical Science and Engineering, 1, 27-36. doi: 10.4236/jbise.2008.11005.

[1]   Buonomano DV, Karmarkar UR (2002) How do we tell time? Neuroscientist 8:42-51.

[2]   Mauk MD, Buonomano DV (2004) The neural basis of temporal processing. Annu Rev Neurosci 27:307-340.

[3]   Ivry RB, Spencer RM (2004) The neural representation of time. Curr Opin Neurobiol 14:225-232.

[4]   deCharms RC, Zador A (2000) Neural representation and the cortical code. Annu Rev Neurosci 23:613-647.

[5]   Dayan, P. and Abbott, LF (2001) Theoretical Neuroscience, MIT Press

[6]   Casseday JH, Ehrlich D, Covey E (1994) Neural tuning for sound duration: role of inhibitory mechanisms in the inferior colliculus. Science 264:847-850.

[7]   Galazyuk AV, Feng AS (1997) Encoding of sound duration by neurons in the auditory cortex of the little brown bat, Myotis lucifugus. J Comp Physiol [A] 180:301-311.

[8]   He J, Hashikawa T, Ojima H, Kinouchi Y (1997) Temporal integration and duration tuning in the dorsal zone of cat auditory cortex. J Neurosci 17:2615-2625.

[9]   Ehrlich D, Casseday JH, Covey E (1997) Neural tuning to sound duration in the inferior colliculus of the big brown bat, Eptesicus fuscus. J Neurophysiol 77:2360-2372.

[10]   Fremouw T, Faure PA, Casseday JH, Covey E (2005) Duration selectivity of neurons in the inferior colliculus of the big brown bat: tolerance to changes in sound level. J Neurophysiol 94:1869-1878.

[11]   Connors BW, Long MA (2004) Electrical synapses in the mammalian brain. Annu Rev Neurosci 27:393-418.

[12]   Sohl G, Maxeiner S, Willecke K (2005) Expression and functions of neuronal gap junctions. Nat Rev Neurosci 6:191-200.

[13]   Placantonakis DG, Bukovsky AA, Zeng XH, Kiem HP, Welsh JP (2004) Fundamental role of inferior olive connexin 36 in muscle coherence during tremor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101:7164-7169.

[14]   Beaulieu C, Kisvarday Z, Somogyi P, Cynader M, Cowey A (1992) Quantitative distribution of GABA-immunopositive and -immunonegative neurons and synapses in the monkey striate cortex (area 17). Cereb Cortex 2:295-309.

[15]   Troyer TW, Miller KD (1997) Physiological gain leads to high ISI variability in a simple model of a cortical regular spiking cell. Neural Comput 9:971-983.

[16]   Rall W (1967) Distinguishing theoretical synaptic potentials computed for different soma-dendritic distributions of synaptic input. J Neurophysiol 30:1138-1168.

[17]   Nowotny T, Rabinovich MI, Huerta R, Abarbanel HD (2003) Decoding temporal information through slow lateral excitation in the olfactory system of insects. J Comput Neurosci 15:271-281.

[18]   Kopell N, Ermentrout B (2004) Chemical and electrical synapses perform complementary roles in the synchronization of interneuronal networks. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 01:15482-15487.

[19]   Hooper SL, Buchman E, Hobbs KH (2002) A computational role for slow conductances: single-neuron models that measure duration. Nat Neurosci 5:552-556.

[20]   Buonomano DV (2000) Decoding temporal information: A model based on short-term synaptic plasticity. J Neurosci 20:1129-1141.

[21]   Nowotny T, Rabinovich MI, Abarbanel HD (2003) Spatial representation of temporal information through spike-timing-dependent plasticity. Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys 68:011908.

[22]   Buonomano DV, Merzenich MM (1995) Temporal information transformed into a spatial code by a neural network with realistic properties. Science 267:1028-1030.

[23]   Mauk MD, Donegan NH (1997) A model of Pavlovian eyelid conditioning based on the synaptic organization of the cerebellum. Learn Mem 4:130-158.

[24]   Medina JF, Garcia KS, Nores WL, Taylor NM, Mauk MD (2000) Timing mechanisms in the cerebellum: testing predictions of a large-scale computer simulation. J Neurosci 20:5516-5525.

[25]   Chitwood RA, Hubbard A, Jaffe DB (1999) Passive electrotonic properties of rat hippocampal CA3 interneurones. J Physiol 515 ( Pt 3):743-756.

[26]   Gentet LJ, Stuart GJ, Clements JD (2000) Direct measurement of specific membrane capacitance in neurons. Biophys J 79:314-320.

[27]   Major G, Larkman AU, Jonas P, Sakmann B, Jack JJ (1994) Detailed passive cable models of whole-cell recorded CA3 pyramidal neurons in rat hippocampal slices. J Neurosci 14:4613-4638.

[28]   Thurbon D, Luscher HR, Hofstetter T, Redman SJ (1998) Passive electrical properties of ventral horn neurons in rat spinal cord slices. J Neurophysiol 80:2485-2502.