Changes in the efficacies of synapses are thought to be the neurobiological basis of learning and memory. The efficacy of a synapse depends on its current number of neurotransmitter receptors. Recent experiments have shown that these receptors are highly dynamic, moving back and forth between synapses on time scales of seconds and minutes. This suggests spontaneous fluctuations in synaptic efficacies and a competition of nearby synapses for available receptors. Here we propose a mathematical model of this competition of synapses for neurotransmitter receptors from a local dendritic pool. Using minimal assumptions, the model produces a fast multiplicative scaling behavior of synapses. Furthermore, the model explains a transient form of heterosynaptic plasticity and predicts that its amount is inversely related to the size of the local receptor pool. Overall, our model reveals logistical tradeoffs during the induction of synaptic plasticity due to the rapid exchange of neurotransmitter receptors between synapses.
Program code of the model is publicly available at:https://github.com/triesch/synaptic-competition
- Jochen Triesch
- Anne-Sophie Hafner
- Anne-Sophie Hafner
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Timothy O'Leary, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
© 2018, Triesch et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Blindness affects millions of people around the world. A promising solution to restoring a form of vision for some individuals are cortical visual prostheses, which bypass part of the impaired visual pathway by converting camera input to electrical stimulation of the visual system. The artificially induced visual percept (a pattern of localized light flashes, or ‘phosphenes’) has limited resolution, and a great portion of the field’s research is devoted to optimizing the efficacy, efficiency, and practical usefulness of the encoding of visual information. A commonly exploited method is non-invasive functional evaluation in sighted subjects or with computational models by using simulated prosthetic vision (SPV) pipelines. An important challenge in this approach is to balance enhanced perceptual realism, biologically plausibility, and real-time performance in the simulation of cortical prosthetic vision. We present a biologically plausible, PyTorch-based phosphene simulator that can run in real-time and uses differentiable operations to allow for gradient-based computational optimization of phosphene encoding models. The simulator integrates a wide range of clinical results with neurophysiological evidence in humans and non-human primates. The pipeline includes a model of the retinotopic organization and cortical magnification of the visual cortex. Moreover, the quantitative effects of stimulation parameters and temporal dynamics on phosphene characteristics are incorporated. Our results demonstrate the simulator’s suitability for both computational applications such as end-to-end deep learning-based prosthetic vision optimization as well as behavioral experiments. The modular and open-source software provides a flexible simulation framework for computational, clinical, and behavioral neuroscientists working on visual neuroprosthetics.
Extinction is a specific example of learning where a previously reinforced stimulus or response is no longer reinforced, and the previously learned behaviour is no longer necessary and must be modified. Current theories suggest extinction is not the erasure of the original learning but involves new learning that acts to suppress the original behaviour. Evidence for this can be found when the original behaviour recovers following the passage of time (spontaneous recovery) or reintroduction of the reinforcement (i.e. reinstatement). Recent studies have shown that pharmacological manipulation of noradrenaline (NA) or its receptors can influence appetitive extinction; however, the role and source of endogenous NA in these effects are unknown. Here, we examined the role of the locus coeruleus (LC) in appetitive extinction. Specifically, we tested whether optogenetic stimulation of LC neurons during extinction of a food-seeking behaviour would enhance extinction evidenced by reduced spontaneous recovery in future tests. LC stimulation during extinction trials did not change the rate of extinction but did serve to reduce subsequent spontaneous recovery, suggesting that stimulation of the LC can augment reward-related extinction. Optogenetic inhibition of the LC during extinction trials reduced responding during the trials where it was applied, but no long-lasting changes in the retention of extinction were observed. Since not all LC cells expressed halorhodopsin, it is possible that more complete LC inhibition or pathway-specific targeting would be more effective at suppressing extinction learning. These results provide further insight into the neural basis of appetitive extinction, and in particular the role of the LC. A deeper understanding of the physiological bases of extinction can aid development of more effective extinction-based therapies.