Shaping Neuronal Network Activity by Presynaptic Mechanisms

Ayal Lavi, Omri Perez, Uri Ashery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neuronal microcircuits generate oscillatory activity, which has been linked to basic functions such as sleep, learning and sensorimotor gating. Although synaptic release processes are well known for their ability to shape the interaction between neurons in microcircuits, most computational models do not simulate the synaptic transmission process directly and hence cannot explain how changes in synaptic parameters alter neuronal network activity. In this paper, we present a novel neuronal network model that incorporates presynaptic release mechanisms, such as vesicle pool dynamics and calcium-dependent release probability, to model the spontaneous activity of neuronal networks. The model, which is based on modified leaky integrate-and-fire neurons, generates spontaneous network activity patterns, which are similar to experimental data and robust under changes in the model's primary gain parameters such as excitatory postsynaptic potential and connectivity ratio. Furthermore, it reliably recreates experimental findings and provides mechanistic explanations for data obtained from microelectrode array recordings, such as network burst termination and the effects of pharmacological and genetic manipulations. The model demonstrates how elevated asynchronous release, but not spontaneous release, synchronizes neuronal network activity and reveals that asynchronous release enhances utilization of the recycling vesicle pool to induce the network effect. The model further predicts a positive correlation between vesicle priming at the single-neuron level and burst frequency at the network level; this prediction is supported by experimental findings. Thus, the model is utilized to reveal how synaptic release processes at the neuronal level govern activity patterns and synchronization at the network level.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1004438
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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