Abstract

We present a dynamical theory of integrate-and-fire neurons with strong synaptic coupling. We show how phase-locked states that are stable in the weak coupling regime can destabilize as the coupling is increased, leading to states characterized by spatiotemporal variations in the interspike intervals (ISIs). The dynamics is compared with that of a corresponding network of analog neurons in which the outputs of the neurons are taken to be mean firing rates. A fundamental result is that for slow interactions, there is good agreement between the two models (on an appropriately defined timescale). Various examples of desynchronization in the strong coupling regime are presented. First, a globally coupled network of identical neurons with strong inhibitory coupling is shown to exhibit oscillator death in which some of the neurons suppress the activity of others. However, the stability of the synchronous state persists for very large networks and fast synapses. Second, an asymmetric network with a mixture of excitation and inhibition is shown to exhibit periodic bursting patterns. Finally, a one-dimensional network of neurons with long-range interactions is shown to desynchronize to a state with a spatially periodic pattern of mean firing rates across the network. This is modulated by deterministic fluctuations of the instantaneous firing rate whose size is an increasing function of the speed of synaptic response.

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