What features are important for circuit robustness? Reciprocal inhibition is a building block in many circuits. We used dynamic clamp to create reciprocally inhibitory circuits from pharmacologically isolated neurons of the crab stomatogastric ganglion by injecting artificial synaptic (ISyn) and hyperpolarization-activated inward (IH) currents. There are two mechanisms of antiphase oscillations in these circuits: "escape" and "release". In release, the active neuron primarily controls the off/on transitions. In escape, the inhibited neuron controls the transitions. We characterized the robustness of escape and release circuits to alterations in circuit parameters, temperature, and neuromodulation. We found that escape circuits rely on tight correlations between synaptic and H conductances to generate bursting but are resilient to temperature increase. Release circuits are robust to variations in synaptic and H conductances but fragile to temperature increase. The modulatory current (IMI) restores oscillations in release circuits but has little effect in escape circuits. Thus, the same perturbation can have dramatically different effects depending on the circuits' mechanism of operation that may not be observable from basal circuit activity.
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