Clique of Functional Hubs Orchestrates Population Bursts in Developmentally Regulated Neural Networks

Stefano Luccioli*, Eshel Ben-Jacob, Ari Barzilai, Paolo Bonifazi, Alessandro Torcini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has recently been discovered that single neuron stimulation can impact network dynamics in immature and adult neuronal circuits. Here we report a novel mechanism which can explain in neuronal circuits, at an early stage of development, the peculiar role played by a few specific neurons in promoting/arresting the population activity. For this purpose, we consider a standard neuronal network model, with short-term synaptic plasticity, whose population activity is characterized by bursting behavior. The addition of developmentally inspired constraints and correlations in the distribution of the neuronal connectivities and excitabilities leads to the emergence of functional hub neurons, whose stimulation/deletion is critical for the network activity. Functional hubs form a clique, where a precise sequential activation of the neurons is essential to ignite collective events without any need for a specific topological architecture. Unsupervised time-lagged firings of supra-threshold cells, in connection with coordinated entrainments of near-threshold neurons, are the key ingredients to orchestrate population activity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014


FundersFunder number
European Commission
Seventh Framework Programme289146


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