Spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) is a learning rule that modifies the strength of a neuron's synapses as a function of the precise temporal relations between input and output spikes. In many brains areas, temporal aspects of spike trains have been found to be highly reproducible. How will STDP affect a neuron's behavior when it is repeatedly presented with the same input spike pattern? We show in this theoretical study that repeated inputs systematically lead to a shaping of the neuron's selectivity, emphasizing its very first input spikes, while steadily decreasing the postsynaptic response latency. This was obtained under various conditions of background noise, and even under conditions where spiking latencies and firing rates, or synchrony, provided conflicting informations. The key role of first spikes demonstrated here provides further support for models using a single wave of spikes to implement rapid neural processing.

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