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Front. Physiol. | doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01849

Dendritic and Axonal Propagation Delays May Shape Neuronal Networks with Plastic Synapses

  • 1Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS), Iran
  • 2Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University, United States

‎Biological neuronal networks are highly adaptive and plastic‎. ‎For instance‎, ‎spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) is a core mechanism which adapts the synaptic strengths based on the relative timing of pre‎- ‎and postsynaptic spikes‎. ‎In various fields of physiology‎, ‎time delays cause a plethora of biologically relevant dynamical phenomena‎. ‎However‎, ‎time delays increase the complexity of model systems together with the computational and theoretical analysis burden‎. ‎Accordingly‎, ‎in computational neuronal network studies propagation delays were often neglected‎. ‎As a downside‎, ‎a classic STDP rule in oscillatory neurons without propagation delays is unable to give rise to bidirectional synaptic couplings‎, ‎i.e‎. ‎loops or uncoupled states‎. ‎This is at variance with basic experimental results‎. In this mini review, we focus on recent theoretical studies focusing on how things change in the presence of propagation delays‎. ‎Realistic propagation delays may lead to the emergence of neuronal activity and synaptic connectivity patterns‎, ‎which cannot be captured by classic STDP models‎. ‎In fact‎, ‎propagation delays determine the inventory of attractor states and shape their basins of attractions‎. ‎The results reviewed here enable to overcome fundamental discrepancies between theory and experiments‎. ‎Furthermore‎, ‎these findings are relevant for the development of therapeutic brain stimulation techniques aiming at shifting the diseased brain to more favorable attractor states‎.

Keywords: Propagation delays, Spike-timing-dependent plasticity, synchronization, mathematical modeling, Living systems

Received: 25 Aug 2018; Accepted: 07 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Alexey Zaikin, University College London, United Kingdom

Reviewed by:

Silvina Ponce Dawson, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Jihwan Myung, Taipei Medical University, Taiwan  

Copyright: © 2018 Madadi Asl, Valizadeh and Tass. 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. Mojtaba Madadi Asl, Institute for Advanced Studies in Basic Sciences (IASBS), Zanjan, Iran, m.madadi@iasbs.ac.ir