October, 2020 UGOE published the work “The Interplay of Synaptic Plasticity and Scaling Enables Self-Organized Formation and Allocation of Multiple Memory Representations“
It is commonly assumed that memories about experienced stimuli are represented by groups of highly interconnected neurons called cell assemblies. This requires allocating and storing information in the neural circuitry, which happens through synaptic weight adaptations at different types of synapses. In general, memory allocation is associated with synaptic changes at feed-forward synapses while memory storage is linked with adaptation of recurrent connections. It remains, however, largely unknown how memory allocation and storage can be achieved and the adaption of the different synapses involved be coordinated to allow for a faithful representation of multiple memories without disruptive interference between them. In this theoretical study, by using network simulations and phase space analyses, we show that the interplay between long-term synaptic plasticity and homeostatic synaptic scaling organizes simultaneously the adaptations of feed-forward and recurrent synapses such that a new stimulus forms a new memory and where different stimuli are assigned to distinct cell assemblies. The resulting dynamics can reproduce experimental in-vivo data, focusing on how diverse factors, such as neuronal excitability and network connectivity, influence memory formation. Thus, the here presented model suggests that a few fundamental synaptic mechanisms may suffice to implement memory allocation and storage in neural circuitry.