Pairwise Analysis Can Account for Network Structures Arising from Spike-Timing Dependent Plasticity
Spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) modifies synaptic strengths based on timing information available locally at each synapse. Despite this, it induces global structures within a recurrently connected network. We study such structures both through simulations and by analyzing the effects of STDP on pair-wise interactions of neurons. We show how conventional STDP acts as a loop-eliminating mechanism and organizes neurons into in- and out-hubs. Loop-elimination increases when depression dominates and turns into loop-generation when potentiation dominates. STDP with a shifted temporal window such that coincident spikes cause depression enhances recurrent connections and functions as a strict buffering mechanism that maintains a roughly constant average firing rate. STDP with the opposite temporal shift functions as a loop eliminator at low rates and as a potent loop generator at higher rates. In general, studying pairwise interactions of neurons provides important insights about the structures that STDP can produce in large networks. The connectivity structure in neural networks reflects, at least in part, the long-term effects of synaptic plasticity mechanisms that underlie learning and memory. In one of the most widespread such mechanisms, spike-timing dependent plasticity (STDP), the temporal order of pre- and postsynaptic spiking across a synapse determines whether it is strengthened or weakened. Therefore, the synapses are modified solely based on local information through STDP. However, STDP can give rise to a variety of global connectivity structures in an interconnected neural network. Here, we provide an analytical framework that can predict the global structures that arise from STDP in such a network. The analytical technique we develop is actually quite simple, and involves the study of two interconnected neurons receiving inputs from their surrounding network. Following analytical calculations for a variety of different STDP models, we test and verify all our predictions through full network simulations. More importantly, the developed analytical tool will allow other researchers to figure out what arises from any other type of STDP in a network.