Avian nucleus isthmi pars parvocellularis (Ipc) neurons are reciprocally connected with the layer 10 (L10) neurons in the optic tectum and respond with oscillatory bursts to visual stimulation. Our in vitro experiments show that both neuron types respond with regular spiking to somatic current injection and that the feedforward and feedback synaptic connections are excitatory, but of different strength and time course. To elucidate mechanisms of oscillatory bursting in this network of regularly spiking neurons, we investigated an experimentally constrained model of coupled leaky integrate-and-fire neurons with spike-rate adaptation. The model reproduces the observed Ipc oscillatory bursting in response to simulated visual stimulation. A scan through the model parameter volume reveals that Ipc oscillatory burst generation can be caused by strong and brief feedforward synaptic conductance changes. The mechanism is sensitive to the parameter values of spike-rate adaptation. In conclusion, we show that a network of regular-spiking neurons with feedforward excitation and spike-rate adaptation can generate oscillatory bursting in response to a constant input.
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