There are several different biophysical mechanisms for spike frequency adaptation observed in recordings from cortical neurons. The two most commonly used in modeling studies are a calcium-dependent potassium current Iahp and a slow voltage-dependent potassium current, Im. We show that both of these have strong effects on the synchronization properties of excitatorily coupled neurons. Furthermore, we show that the reasons for these effects are different. We show through an analysis of some standard models, that the M-current adaptation alters the mechanism for repetitive firing, while the after hyperpolarization adaptation works via shunting the incoming synapses. This latter mechanism applies with a network that has recurrent inhibition. The shunting behavior is captured in a simple two-variable reduced model that arises near certain types of bifurcations. A one-dimensional map is derived from the simplified model.

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