High frequency neurons determine effective connectivity in neuronal networks

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Abstract

The emergence of flexible information channels in brain networks is a fundamental question in neuroscience. Understanding the mechanisms of dynamic routing of information would have far-reaching implications in a number of disciplines ranging from biology and medicine to information technologies and engineering. In this work, we show that the presence of a node firing at a higher frequency in a network with local connections, leads to reliable transmission of signals and establishes a preferential direction of information flow. Thus, by raising the firing rate a low degree node can behave as a functional hub, spreading its activity patterns polysynaptically in the network. Therefore, in an otherwise homogeneous and undirected network, firing rate is a tunable parameter that introduces directionality and enhances the reliability of signal transmission. The intrinsic firing rate across neuronal populations may thus determine preferred routes for signal transmission that can be easily controlled by changing the firing rate in specific nodes. We show that the results are generic and the same mechanism works in the networks with more complex topology.

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