Sequentially Switching Cell Assemblies in Random Inhibitory Networks of Spiking Neurons in the Striatum
The striatum is composed of GABAergic medium spiny neurons with inhibitory collaterals forming a sparse random asymmetric network and receiving an excitatory glutamatergic cortical projection. Because the inhibitory collaterals are sparse and weak, their role in striatal network dynamics is puzzling. However, here we show by simulation of a striatal inhibitory network model composed of spiking neurons that cells form assemblies that fire in sequential coherent episodes and display complex identity–temporal spiking patterns even when cortical excitation is simply constant or fluctuating noisily. Strongly correlated large-scale firing rate fluctuations on slow behaviorally relevant timescales of hundreds of milliseconds are shown by members of the same assembly whereas members of different assemblies show strong negative correlation, and we show how randomly connected spiking networks can generate this activity. Cells display highly irregular spiking with high coefficients of variation, broadly distributed low firing rates, and interspike interval distributions that are consistent with exponentially tailed power laws. Although firing rates vary coherently on slow timescales, precise spiking synchronization is absent in general. Our model only requires the minimal but striatally realistic assumptions of sparse to intermediate random connectivity, weak inhibitory synapses, and sufficient cortical excitation so that some cells are depolarized above the firing threshold during up states. Our results are in good qualitative agreement with experimental studies, consistent with recently determined striatal anatomy and physiology, and support a new view of endogenously generated metastable state switching dynamics of the striatal network underlying its information processing operations.