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Publication Summary and Abstract

Humphries, M. D. & Gurney, K. N. (2001), A pulsed neural network model of bursting in the basal ganglia, Neural Networks, 14:845-863.

We present new techniques for extending the functionality of spiking neurons which allow the incorporation of several aspects of neuron function previously confined to the domain of low level ion-channel based models. These aspects include spontaneous (or endogenous) firing, the complex interaction of multiple ion-species and the spatial distribution of synaptic contacts over the cell membrane. These ideas are applied to a neural circuit consisting of the cortex and a subset of the nuclei in the basal ganglia - the subthalamic nucleus (STN) and the external segment of the globus pallidus (GPe). This circuit has been studied extensively in vitro by Plenz and Kitai [Plenz, D., & Kitai, S. T. (1999). A basal ganglia pacemaker formed by the subthalamic nucleus and external globus pallidus. Nature, 400 677-682] whose data we use to constrain our model. With respect to this circuit, we have obtained three main results. First, that its characteristic burst firing is due to a Ca2+ current mediated mechanism. Second, that noise can assist in the generation of bursting and, paradoxically, stabilise the network behaviour under synaptic weight variations. Third, that a variety of dendritic processing is necessary in order to obtain the full range of bursting behaviour.
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