Heterogeneous distribution of synaptic weights: experiments and theory


Francesco Fumarola | RIKEN Center for Brain Science, Wako, Japan
Lukasz Kusmierz | Duke University, Durham, USA


Numerous experimental findings have pointed out that correlates of synaptic efficacy are distributed in a heterogeneous manner, spanning a few orders of magnitude with many weak and very fewer strong synapses. However, how such heterogeneity emerges through development and plasticity, and what functional role it plays in neuronal circuits, is still not well understood. There is currently no common conceptual framework to study this aspect of neural organization, and most theoretical models rely on overly simplifying assumptions about the underlying synaptic weight distribution.
To fill this gap, we have invited experimental and theoretical neuroscientists to exchange recent results and ideas that link heterogeneity in synaptic weights, synaptic plasticity, neural dynamics and computation. The objective of this workshop is to bring together researchers who approach these links from diverse viewpoints and techniques. In doing so, we hope to encourage discussions and new collaborations, and to collate various models that concern the functional role of heterogeneity in synaptic weights. An important subgoal of the workshop is to devise robust experimental designs that can challenge the proposed theoretical models and interpretations.

Schedule (CEST)


Florencia Iacaruso | The Francis Crick Institute, London, UK
Functional organization of synaptic strength in primary visual cortex


Pulin Gong | University of Sydney, Australia
Fractional diffusion theory of heterogeneous neural networks


Simon Rumpel | Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
Intrinsic dynamics of the cortical connectome


Julijana Gjorgjieva | Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Frankfurt a.M., Germany
Robustness and flexibility of network responses to single spikes


30 min break


Sven Dorkenwald | Princeton University, USA
Binary and analog variation of synapses between cortical pyramidal neurons


Ramin Khajeh | Columbia University, New York, USA
Sparse balance: excitatory-inhibitory networks with small bias currents and broadly distributed synaptic weights


Merav Stern | Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel & University of Oregon, Eugene, USA
A reservoir of timescales in neural networks with heterogeneous clustering strengths


30 min break


Carl Petersen | EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland
Sparse strong synaptic connectivity for reliable sensory processing in mouse barrel cortex


Lukasz Kusmierz | Duke University, Durham, USA
Cauchy networks: a simple mathematical framework to study network effects of synaptic heavy tails