An analysis of waves underlying grid cell firing in the medial enthorinal cortex
Journal of Mathematical Neuroscience
BioMed Central / SpringerOpen
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Layer II stellate cells in the medial enthorinal cortex (MEC) express hyperpolarisation-activated cyclic-nucleotide-gated (HCN) channels that allow for rebound spiking via an Ih current in response to hyperpolaris- ing synaptic input. A computational modelling study by Hasselmo [2013 Neuronal rebound spiking, resonance frequency and theta cycle skipping may contribute to grid cell firing in medial entorhinal cortex. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 369: 20120523] showed that an inhibitory network of such cells can support periodic travelling waves with a period that is controlled by the dynamics of the Ih current. Hasselmo has suggested that these waves can underlie the generation of grid cells, and that the known difference in Ih resonance frequency along the dorsal to ventral axis can explain the observed size and spacing between grid cell firing fields. Here we develop a biophysical spiking model within a framework that allows for analytical tractability. We combine the simplicity of integrate-and-fire neurons with a piecewise linear caricature of the gating dynamics for HCN channels to develop a spiking neural field model of MEC. Using techniques primarily drawn from the field of nonsmooth dynamical systems we show how to construct periodic travelling waves, and in particular the dispersion curve that determines how wave speed varies as a function of period. This ex- hibits a wide range of long wavelength solutions, reinforcing the idea that rebound spiking is a candidate mechanism for generating grid cell firing patterns. Importantly we develop a wave stability analysis to show how the maximum allowed period is controlled by the dynamical properties of the Ih current. Our theoretical work is validated by numerical simulations of the spiking model in both one and two dimensions.
SC was supported by the European Commission through the FP7 Marie Curie Initial Training Network 289146, NETT: Neural Engineering Transformative Technologies. We gratefully acknowledge the support of NVIDIA Corporation with the donation of the Tesla K40 GPU used for this research. KCAW was generously supported by the Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Award (WT105618MA).
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