Temporally changing synaptic plasticity

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 18 (NIPS 2005)

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Minija Tamosiunaite, Bernd Porr, Florentin Wörgötter


Recent experimental results suggest that dendritic and back-propagating spikes can influence synaptic plasticity in different ways [1]. In this study we investigate how these signals could temporally interact at dendrites leading to changing plasticity properties at local synapse clusters. Similar to a previous study [2], we employ a differential Hebbian plasticity rule to emulate spike-timing dependent plasticity. We use dendritic (D-) and back-propagating (BP-) spikes as post-synaptic signals in the learning rule and investigate how their interaction will influence plasticity. We will analyze a situation where synapse plasticity characteristics change in the course of time, depending on the type of post-synaptic activity momentarily elicited. Starting with weak synapses, which only elicit local D-spikes, a slow, unspecific growth process is induced. As soon as the soma begins to spike this process is replaced by fast synaptic changes as the consequence of the much stronger and sharper BP-spike, which now dominates the plasticity rule. This way a winner-take-all-mechanism emerges in a two-stage process, enhancing the best-correlated inputs. These results suggest that synaptic plasticity is a temporal changing process by which the computational properties of dendrites or complete neurons can be substantially augmented.