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Neural Circuit Dynamics for Sensory Detection

By Sruti Mallik, Srinath Nizampatnam, Anirban Nandi, Debajit Saha, Baranidharan Raman, ShiNung Ching

Posted 29 Jan 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.01.28.923839 (published DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2185-19.2020)

We consider the question of how sensory networks enable the detection of sensory stimuli in a combinatorial coding space. We are specifically interested in the olfactory system, wherein recent experimental studies have reported the existence of rich, enigmatic response patterns associated with stimulus onset and offset. This study aims to identify the functional relevance of such response patterns, i.e., what benefits does such neural activity provide in the context of detecting stimuli in a natural environment. We study this problem through the lens of normative, optimization-based modeling. Here, we define the notion of a low dimensional latent representation of stimulus identity, which is generated through action of the sensory network. The objective of our optimization framework is to ensure high fidelity tracking of a nominal representation in this latent space in an energy efficient manner. It turns out that the optimal motifs emerging from this framework possess morphological similarity with prototypical onset and offset responses observed in vivo. Furthermore, this objective can be exactly achieved by a network with reciprocal excitatory-inhibitory competitive dynamics, similar to interactions between principal neurons (PNs) and local neurons (LNs) in the early olfactory system of insects. The derived model also makes several predictions regarding maintenance of robust latent representations in the presence of confounding background information and tradeoffs between the energy of sensory activity and resultant behavioral measures such as speed and accuracy of stimulus detection.

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