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Front. Neural Circuits | doi: 10.3389/fncir.2019.00031

Synaptic failure differentially affects pattern formation in heterogenous networks

  • 1University of Michigan, United States

The communication of the neurons is maintained by synapses, which play a crucial role in the functioning of the nervous system. Therefore, synaptic failure may impair information processing in the brain, to the extent of the loss of consciousness, as well as may underlie many neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, a number of studies suggested that anesthetics regulate conscious state by affecting synaptic transmission primarily of network hubs and subsequently reducing the coherence in the network activity. Here, we studied network-wide spatio-temporal patterning in scale-free networks with two types of synaptic failure: activity-dependent and activity-independent. Further, we defined scale-free network structures based on the dominating direction of the connections at the hub neurons: incoming and outgoing. We found that the two structures have significantly different dynamical properties. Moreover, synaptic failure may not only lead to the loss of coherence but, under some conditions, also can facilitate its emergence unintuitively. We showed that this is because activity-dependent synaptic failure homogenizes the activity levels in the network creating a dynamical substrate for the observed coherence increase. Our results indicate that coherence breakdown due to the synaptic failure may not be enough to explain the loss of consciousness, but at the same time can lead to such pathologies as epilepsy.

Keywords: synaptic transmission failure, network dynamics, network synchrony, Spatio-temporal pattern formation, Scale-free Networks

Received: 13 Aug 2018; Accepted: 11 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Tuo Zhang, Northwestern Polytechnical University, China

Reviewed by:

Meng Li, Harvard University, United States
Yimin Wang, Shanghai University, China  

Copyright: © 2019 Budak and Zochowski. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Michal Zochowski, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 48109, Michigan, United States, michalz@umich.edu