It is widely accepted that the hippocampal place cells' spiking activity produces a cognitive map of space. However, many details of this representation's physiological mechanism remain unknown. For example, it is believed that the place cells exhibiting frequent coactivity form functionally interconnected groups—place cell assemblies—that drive readout neurons in the downstream networks. However, the sheer number of coactive combinations is extremely large, which implies that only a small fraction of them actually gives rise to cell assemblies. The physiological processes responsible for selecting the winning combinations are highly complex and are usually modeled via detailed synaptic and structural plasticity mechanisms. Here we propose an alternative approach that allows modeling the cell assembly network directly, based on a small number of phenomenological selection rules. We then demonstrate that the selected population of place cell assemblies correctly encodes the topology of the environment in biologically plausible time, and may serve as a schematic model of the hippocampal network.
Babichev, A., Ji, D., Mémoli, F., & Dabaghian, Y. A. (2016). A topological model of the hippocampal cell assembly network. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 10(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2016.00050