We examine the existence and stability of spatially localized “bumps” of neuronal activity in a network of spiking neurons. Bumps have been proposed in mechanisms of visual orientation tuning, the rat head direction system, and working memory. We show that a bump solution can exist in a spiking network provided the neurons fire asynchronously within the bump. We consider a parameter regime where the bump solution is bistable with an all-off state and can be initiated with a transient excitatory stimulus. We show that the activity profile matches that of a corresponding population rate model. The bump in a spiking network can lose stability through partial synchronization to either a traveling wave or the all-off state. This can occur if the synaptic timescale is too fast through a dynamical effect or if a transient excitatory pulse is applied to the network. A bump can thus be activated and deactivated with excitatory inputs that may have physiological relevance.

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