Synaptic plasticity is considered to play a crucial role in the experience-dependent self-organization of local cortical networks. In the absence of sensory stimuli, cerebral cortex exhibits spontaneous membrane potential transitions between an UP and a DOWN state. To reveal how cortical networks develop spontaneous activity, or conversely, how spontaneous activity structures cortical networks, we analyze the self-organization of a recurrent network model of excitatory and inhibitory neurons, which is realistic enough to replicate UP-DOWN states, with spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP). The individual neurons in the self-organized network exhibit a variety of temporal patterns in the two-state transitions. In addition, the model develops a feed-forward network-like structure that produces a diverse repertoire of precise sequences of the UP state. Our model shows that the self-organized activity well resembles the spontaneous activity of cortical networks if STDP is accompanied by the pruning of weak synapses. These results suggest that the two-state membrane potential transitions play an active role in structuring local cortical circuits.
Kang, S., Kitano, K., & Fukai, T. (2008). Structure of spontaneous UP and DOWN transitions self-organizing in a cortical network model. PLoS Computational Biology, 4(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000022