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Figure 1: Synaptic variability is the dominant source of output variability. A, top The spike generator is reliable. The response of a neuron from layer II/III of a slice of rat neocortex to 20 consecutive even-numbered trials in which precisely the same synthetic synaptic current was injected through a somatic electrode (see Methods). Most of the spikes are aligned to a precision of about 1 msec, although a few ``stray'' or ``displaced'' spikes are also seen. This experiment places a lower bound on the precision with which spikes can be generated in response to identically repeated stimuli; the remaining variability is due to some combination of experimental noise and the intrinsic variability of the spike generator. B, bottom Noisy synapses introduce output variability. The response to 20 consecutive odd-numbered trials (interleaved with the even-numbered trials presented in A) is shown. In this experiment, synthetic currents were generated from the same ensemble as in A, using a fixed pattern of presynaptic spikes drawn from a Poisson ensemble, but assuming that, because of synaptic failures, 3/10 spikes failed to elicit an EPSC (tex2html_wrap_inline1407). (The current repeated injected in the experiment in A is equivalent to the assumption that the same 3/10 spikes failed to elicit an EPSC on every trial). Under these conditions, the effective output reliability is markedly decreased, as seen by the poor alignment of the spikes giving a haphazard appearance to the raster. For this experiment, quantal fluctuations-which would tend to further decrease the output reliability--were suppressed (CV=0). Parameters for synthetic synaptic currents: Quantal size (mean): 30 pA; quantal size (coefficient of variation): 0; tex2html_wrap_inline1407; tex2html_wrap_inline1559.

  
Figure 2: Dependence of entropy and information firing rate in a model neuron. A,left The entropy and information per spike are plotted as a function of the firing rate in a model integrate-and-fire neuron. The dashed curve represents the total entropy, which quantifies the total output variability of the spike train. The dotted line represent the conditional entropy, which quantifies the variability that remains when the signal is held constant. The solid line is the mutual information between the input and the output, and is the difference between these quantities. B, right The corresponding entropy and information rates in bits/millisecond are shown. Parameters: tex2html_wrap_inline1561 mV; tex2html_wrap_inline1563 Mtex2html_wrap_inline1107; tex2html_wrap_inline1567 msec; tex2html_wrap_inline1569 mV; tex2html_wrap_inline1571 mV; quantal size (mean): 30 pA; quantal size (coefficient of variation): 0.2; tex2html_wrap_inline1413; tex2html_wrap_inline1559. The spike rate was varied by increasing the presynaptic Poisson input rate. The smooth curves shown represent the fit of a high-order polynomial to the values computed at a large number of firing rates. In this and all other simulations presented, a binsize of 1 millisecond was used.

  
Figure 3: Information depends on synaptic release probability. A, left The information rate is plotted as a function of the firing rate for four values of the release probability tex2html_wrap_inline1413, 0.9, 0.6, 0.3 in a model integrate-and-fire neuron. (top to bottom). The top curve is the same as that shown in Fig. 2B. B, right The information rate is plotted as a function of the release probability tex2html_wrap_inline1141 at F=40 Hz. In each simulation, tex2html_wrap_inline1141 was the same at all synapses. In order to maintain the Poisson input rate tex2html_wrap_inline1195 constant, the Poisson rate at each synapse was increased to compensate for the decrease in the Poisson rate due to synaptic failures; thus for all curves, EPSCs arrived at a net rate of 2.4/msec (see Model of synaptic drive for details). Except as indicated, the parameters are the same as in Fig. 2B.

  
Figure 4: Information rate depends on number of functional contacts. A, left The information rate is plotted as a function of release probability tex2html_wrap_inline1141 for three values of the number of functional contacts tex2html_wrap_inline1559, 5 and 20 (bottom to top) in a model integrate-and-fire neuron. The bottom curve is the same as that shown in Fig. 3B. B, right The information rate is plotted as a function of the number of functional contacts for tex2html_wrap_inline1463, F=40 Hz. In order to maintain the Poisson input rate tex2html_wrap_inline1195 constant, the Poisson rate at each synapse was increased to compensate for the changes in the tex2html_wrap_inline1195 due to synaptic failures or the number of functional contacts; thus for all curves, EPSCs arrived at a net rate of 2.4/msec (see Model of synaptic drive for details). Except as indicated, the parameters are the same as in Fig. 2.

  
Figure 5: Information is inversely proportional to the number of functional contacts in a mean rate code. In these simulations, the input Poisson rate tex2html_wrap_inline1195 was held constant. The Fano factor (the variance divided by the mean of the spike count) during a 250 millisecond window is plotted as a function of the number of functional contacts. This measure can be thought of as an effective ``noise-to-signal'' ratio for a mean rate code, since it reflects how well the spike count can be estimated. A larger ratio indicates that the spike count is harder to estimate. The curve illustrates that an increase in the number of functional contacts leads to an increase in the variance of the synaptic current driving the neuron, and thereby an increase in the Fano factor. In order to maintain the rate of Poisson input tex2html_wrap_inline1195 constant, the Poisson rate at each synapse was increased to compensate for the changes in the tex2html_wrap_inline1195 due to synaptic failures or the number of functional contacts; thus for all curves, EPSCs arrived at a net rate of 2.4/msec (see Model of synaptic drive for details). Except as indicated, the parameters are the same as in Fig. 2.


next up previous
Next: About this document Up: The Impact of Synaptic Previous: Information and synaptic unreliability

Tony Zador
Fri Nov 28 10:17:14 PST 1997