Burst firing enhances neural output correlation

Ho Ka Chan*, Dong Ping Yang, Changsong ZHOU, Thomas Nowotny

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Neurons communicate and transmit information predominantly through spikes. Given that experimentally observed neural spike trains in a variety of brain areas can be highly correlated, it is important to investigate how neurons process correlated inputs. Most previous work in this area studied the problem of correlation transfer analytically by making significant simplifications on neural dynamics. Temporal correlation between inputs that arises from synaptic filtering, for instance, is often ignored when assuming that an input spike can at most generate one output spike. Through numerical simulations of a pair of leaky integrate-and-fire (LIF) neurons receiving correlated inputs, we demonstrate that neurons in the presence of synaptic filtering by slow synapses exhibit strong output correlations. We then show that burst firing plays a central role in enhancing output correlations, which can explain the above-mentioned observation because synaptic filtering induces bursting. The observed changes of correlations are mostly on a long time scale. Our results suggest that other features affecting the prevalence of neural burst firing in biological neurons, e.g., adaptive spiking mechanisms, may play an important role in modulating the overall level of correlations in neural networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
Issue numberMAY
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2016

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

User-Defined Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Burst
  • Correlation
  • Leaky integrate-and-fire
  • Synaptic filtering


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