One of the most specific and exhibited features in the electrical activity of dissociated cultured neural networks is the phenomenon of synchronized bursts, whose profiles vary widely in shape, width and firing rate. On the way to understanding the organization and behavior of biological NNs, we reproduced those features with random connectivity network models with 5,000 neurons. While the common approach to induce bursting behavior in neuronal network models is noise injection, there is experimental evidence suggesting the existence of pacemaker-like neurons. In our simulations noise did evoke bursts, but with an unrealistically gentle rising slope. We show that a small subset of ‘pacemaker’ neurons can trigger bursts with a more realistic profile. We found that adding pacemaker-like neurons as well as adaptive synapses yield burst features (shape, width, and height of the main phase) in the same ranges as obtained experimentally. Finally, we demonstrate how changes in network connectivity, transmission delays, and excitatory fraction influence network burst features quantitatively.
- Recurrent neural networks · Cultured neuronal networks · Pacemaker cells · Network bursts