The emergence of synchrony in the activity of large, heterogeneous networks of spiking neurons is investigated. We define the robustness of synchrony by the critical disorder at which the asynchronous state becomes linearly unstable. We show that at low firing rates, synchrony is more robust in excitatory networks than in inhibitory networks, but excitatory networks cannot display any synchrony when the average firing rate becomes too high. We introduce a new regime where all inputs, external and internal, are strong and have opposite effects that cancel each other when averaged. In this regime, the robustness of synchrony is strongly enhanced, and robust synchrony can be achieved at a high firing rate in inhibitory networks. On the other hand, in excitatory networks, synchrony remains limited in frequency due to the intrinsic instability of strong recurrent excitation.

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