Spike Timing and Synaptic Plasticity

A NIPS*99 Workshop organized by Larry Abbott and Paul Munro

Related Links:
List of NIPS*99 Workshops List of Relevant Readings



Recent experiments have characterized a form of long-term synaptic modification that depends on the relative timing of pre- and postsynaptic action potentials. Synapses are strengthened if presynaptic action potentials precede postsynaptic action potentials by less than about 20-30 ms and are weakened if, instead, presynaptic action potentials follow postsynaptic spikes by an equivalent interval. This form of synaptic modification has important implications for theoretical studies of development and learning through synaptic plasticity.

Hebbian learning in neural networks requires both correlation-based synaptic plasticity and a mechanism that induces competition between different synapses. Spike-timing-dependent synaptic plasticity is especially interesting because it combines both of these elements in a single synaptic modification rule. Competition arises because different synapses compete to control the timing of postsynaptic spikes in order to increase their strengths. This competition is equivalent to that produced by a subtractive constraint on the summed synaptic strengths of the postsynaptic neuron.

Temporally dependent synaptic plasticity is attracting a rapidly growing amount of attention in the computational neuroscience community. The change in synaptic efficacy arising from this form of plasticity is highly sensitive to temporal correlations between different presynaptic spike trains. Furthermore, it can generate asymmetric and directionally selective receptive fields, a result supported by experiments on experience-dependent modifications of hippocampal place fields. Finally, spike-timing-dependent plasticity automatically balances excitation and inhibition producing a state in which neuronal responses are rapid but highly variable.

The major goals of the workshop are:

Tentative Presentation Schedule

(click here for list of abstracts or on the name of a person to jump to that presenter's abstract)