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Paper   IPM / Biological Sciences / 17142
School of Biological Sciences
  Title:   Decoupling of interacting neuronal populations by time-shifted stimulation through spike-timing-dependent plasticity
1.  Mojtaba Madadi Asl
2.  Alireza Valizadeh
3.  Peter Tass
  Status:   Published
  Journal: PLOS Computational Biology
  Year:  2023
  Supported by:  IPM
The synaptic organization of the brain is constantly modified by activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. In several neurological disorders, abnormal neuronal activity and pathological synaptic connectivity may significantly impair normal brain function. Reorganization of neuronal circuits by therapeutic stimulation has the potential to restore normal brain dynamics. Increasing evidence suggests that the temporal stimulation pattern crucially determines the long-lasting therapeutic effects of stimulation. Here, we tested whether a specific pattern of brain stimulation can enable the suppression of pathologically strong inter-population synaptic connectivity through spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP). More specifically, we tested how introducing a time shift between stimuli delivered to two interacting populations of neurons can effectively decouple them. To that end, we first used a tractable model, i.e., two bidirectionally coupled leaky integrate-and-fire (LIF) neurons, to theoretically analyze the optimal range of stimulation frequency and time shift for decoupling. We then extended our results to two reciprocally connected neuronal populations (modules) where inter-population delayed connections were modified by STDP. As predicted by the theoretical results, appropriately time-shifted stimulation causes a decoupling of the two-module system through STDP, i.e., by unlearning pathologically strong synaptic interactions between the two populations. Based on the overall topology of the connections, the decoupling of the two modules, in turn, causes a desynchronization of the populations that outlasts the cessation of stimulation. Decoupling effects of the time-shifted stimulation can be realized by time-shifted burst stimulation as well as time-shifted continuous simulation. Our results provide insight into the further optimization of a variety of multichannel stimulation protocols aiming at a therapeutic reshaping of diseased brain networks.

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