Information processing with frequency-dependent synaptic connections
The efficacy of synaptic transmission between two neurons changes as a function of the history of previous activations of the synaptic connection. This history dependence can be characterized by examining the dependence of transmission on the frequency of stimulation. In this framework synaptic plasticity can also be examined in terms of changes in the frequency dependence of transmission and not merely in terms of synaptic strength which constitutes only a linear scaling mechanism. Recent work shows that the frequency dependence of transmission determines the content of information transmitted between neurons and that synaptic modifications can change the content of information transmitted. Multipatch-clamp recordings revealed that the frequency dependence of transmission is potentially unique for each synaptic connection made by a single axon and that the class of pre-postsynaptic neuron determines the class of frequency dependence (activity independent), while the unique activity relationship between any two neurons could determine the precise values of the parameters within a specific class (activity dependent). The content of information transmitted between neurons is also formalized to provide synaptic transfer functions which can be used to determine the role of the synaptic connection within a network of neurons. It is proposed that deriving synaptic transfer functions is crucial in order to understand the link between synaptic transmission and information processing within networks of neurons and to understand the link between synaptic plasticity and learning and memory.