A neuroecological equation of the Lotka-Volterra type for mean firing rate is derived from the conventional membrane dynamics of a neural network with lateral inhibition and self-inhibition. Neural selection mechanisms employed by the competitive neural network receiving external input sare studied with analytic and numerical calculations. A remarkable finding is that the strength of lateral inhibition relative to that of self-inhibition is crucial for determining the steady states of the network among three qualitatively different types of behavior. Equal strength of both types of inhibitory connections leads the network to the well-known winner-take-all behavior. If, however, the lateral inhibition is weaker than the self-inhibition, a certain number of neurons are activated in the steady states or the number of winners is in general more than one (the winners-share-all behavior). On the other hand, if the self-inhibition is weaker than the lateral one, only one neuron is activated, but the winner is not necessarily the neuron receiving the largest input. It is suggested that our simple network model provides a mathematical basis for understanding neural selection mechanisms.

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