Experimental analysis and computational modeling of interburst intervals in spontaneous activity of cortical neuronal culture

T. Gritsun, Jakob le Feber, J. Stegenga, Wim Rutten

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    Rhythmic bursting is the most striking behavior of cultured cortical networks and may start in the second week after plating. In this study, we focus on the intervals between spontaneously occurring bursts, and compare experimentally recorded values with model simulations. In the models, we use standard neurons and synapses, with physiologically plausible parameters taken from literature. All networks had a random recurrent architecture with sparsely connected neurons. The number of neurons varied between 500 and 5,000. We find that network models with homogeneous synaptic strengths produce asynchronous spiking or stable regular bursts. The latter, however, are in a range not seen in recordings. By increasing the synaptic strength in a (randomly chosen) subset of neurons, our simulations show interburst intervals (IBIs) that agree better with in vitro experiments. In this regime, called weakly synchronized, the models produce irregular network bursts, which are initiated by neurons with relatively stronger synapses. In some noise-driven networks, a subthreshold, deterministic, input is applied to neurons with strong synapses, to mimic pacemaker network drive. We show that models with such “intrinsically active neurons‿ (pacemaker-driven models) tend to generate IBIs that are determined by the frequency of the fastest pacemaker and do not resemble experimental data. Alternatively, noise-driven models yield realistic IBIs. Generally, we found that large-scale noise-driven neuronal network models required synaptic strengths with a bimodal distribution to reproduce the experimentally observed IBI range. Our results imply that the results obtained from small network models cannot simply be extrapolated to models of more realistic size. Synaptic strengths in large-scale neuronal network simulations need readjustment to a bimodal distribution, whereas small networks do not require such changes
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)197-210
    Number of pages14
    JournalBiological cybernetics
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2011


    • BSS-Neurotechnology and cellular engineering
    • METIS-281643
    • IR-78957
    • Cultured neuronal networks – Interburst interval – Random recurrent neuronal network models – Bimodal networks – Noise- and pacemaker-driven network simulations
    • EWI-21001

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