Stability of discrete memory states to stochastic fluctuations in neuronal systems

Paul Miller, Xiao-Jing Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Noise can degrade memories by causing transitions from one memory state to another. For any biological memory system to be useful, the time scale of such noise-induced transitions must be much longer than the required duration for memory retention. Using biophysically-realistic modeling, we consider two types of memory in the brain: short-term memories maintained by reverberating neuronal activity for a few seconds, and long-term memories maintained by a molecular switch for years. Both systems require persistence of (neuronal or molecular) activity self-sustained by an autocatalytic process and, we argue, that both have limited memory lifetimes because of significant fluctuations. We will first discuss a strongly recurrent cortical network model endowed with feedback loops, for short-term memory. Fluctuations are due to highly irregular spike firing, a salient characteristic of cortical neurons. Then, we will analyze a model for long-term memory, based on an autophosphorylation mechanism of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) molecules. There, fluctuations arise from the fact that there are only a small number of CaMKII molecules at each postsynaptic density (putative synaptic memory unit). Our results are twofold. First, we demonstrate analytically and computationally the exponential dependence of stability on the number of neurons in a self-excitatory network, and on the number of CaMKII proteins in a molecular switch. Second, for each of the two systems, we implement graded memory consisting of a group of bistable switches. For the neuronal network we report interesting ramping temporal dynamics as a result of sequentially switching an increasing number of discrete, bistable, units. The general observation of an exponential increase in memory stability with the system size leads to a trade-off between the robustness of memories (which increases with the size of each bistable unit) and the total amount of information storage (which decreases with increasing unit size), which may be optimized in the brain through biological evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number026109
JournalChaos
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2006

Fingerprint

Computer systems
Fluctuations
Data storage equipment
Memory Term
Calmodulin
Protein Kinase
calmodulin
Switch
Unit
proteins
Proteins
Dependent
Neuron
switches
Switches
Molecules
Noise-induced Transition
neurons
Biological Evolution
Recurrent Networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics

Cite this

Stability of discrete memory states to stochastic fluctuations in neuronal systems. / Miller, Paul; Wang, Xiao-Jing.

In: Chaos, Vol. 16, No. 2, 026109, 2006.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{0598c787d31e4a6a90475c8d3302337c,
title = "Stability of discrete memory states to stochastic fluctuations in neuronal systems",
abstract = "Noise can degrade memories by causing transitions from one memory state to another. For any biological memory system to be useful, the time scale of such noise-induced transitions must be much longer than the required duration for memory retention. Using biophysically-realistic modeling, we consider two types of memory in the brain: short-term memories maintained by reverberating neuronal activity for a few seconds, and long-term memories maintained by a molecular switch for years. Both systems require persistence of (neuronal or molecular) activity self-sustained by an autocatalytic process and, we argue, that both have limited memory lifetimes because of significant fluctuations. We will first discuss a strongly recurrent cortical network model endowed with feedback loops, for short-term memory. Fluctuations are due to highly irregular spike firing, a salient characteristic of cortical neurons. Then, we will analyze a model for long-term memory, based on an autophosphorylation mechanism of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) molecules. There, fluctuations arise from the fact that there are only a small number of CaMKII molecules at each postsynaptic density (putative synaptic memory unit). Our results are twofold. First, we demonstrate analytically and computationally the exponential dependence of stability on the number of neurons in a self-excitatory network, and on the number of CaMKII proteins in a molecular switch. Second, for each of the two systems, we implement graded memory consisting of a group of bistable switches. For the neuronal network we report interesting ramping temporal dynamics as a result of sequentially switching an increasing number of discrete, bistable, units. The general observation of an exponential increase in memory stability with the system size leads to a trade-off between the robustness of memories (which increases with the size of each bistable unit) and the total amount of information storage (which decreases with increasing unit size), which may be optimized in the brain through biological evolution.",
author = "Paul Miller and Xiao-Jing Wang",
year = "2006",
doi = "10.1063/1.2208923",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "16",
journal = "Chaos",
issn = "1054-1500",
publisher = "American Institute of Physics Publising LLC",
number = "2",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Stability of discrete memory states to stochastic fluctuations in neuronal systems

AU - Miller, Paul

AU - Wang, Xiao-Jing

PY - 2006

Y1 - 2006

N2 - Noise can degrade memories by causing transitions from one memory state to another. For any biological memory system to be useful, the time scale of such noise-induced transitions must be much longer than the required duration for memory retention. Using biophysically-realistic modeling, we consider two types of memory in the brain: short-term memories maintained by reverberating neuronal activity for a few seconds, and long-term memories maintained by a molecular switch for years. Both systems require persistence of (neuronal or molecular) activity self-sustained by an autocatalytic process and, we argue, that both have limited memory lifetimes because of significant fluctuations. We will first discuss a strongly recurrent cortical network model endowed with feedback loops, for short-term memory. Fluctuations are due to highly irregular spike firing, a salient characteristic of cortical neurons. Then, we will analyze a model for long-term memory, based on an autophosphorylation mechanism of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) molecules. There, fluctuations arise from the fact that there are only a small number of CaMKII molecules at each postsynaptic density (putative synaptic memory unit). Our results are twofold. First, we demonstrate analytically and computationally the exponential dependence of stability on the number of neurons in a self-excitatory network, and on the number of CaMKII proteins in a molecular switch. Second, for each of the two systems, we implement graded memory consisting of a group of bistable switches. For the neuronal network we report interesting ramping temporal dynamics as a result of sequentially switching an increasing number of discrete, bistable, units. The general observation of an exponential increase in memory stability with the system size leads to a trade-off between the robustness of memories (which increases with the size of each bistable unit) and the total amount of information storage (which decreases with increasing unit size), which may be optimized in the brain through biological evolution.

AB - Noise can degrade memories by causing transitions from one memory state to another. For any biological memory system to be useful, the time scale of such noise-induced transitions must be much longer than the required duration for memory retention. Using biophysically-realistic modeling, we consider two types of memory in the brain: short-term memories maintained by reverberating neuronal activity for a few seconds, and long-term memories maintained by a molecular switch for years. Both systems require persistence of (neuronal or molecular) activity self-sustained by an autocatalytic process and, we argue, that both have limited memory lifetimes because of significant fluctuations. We will first discuss a strongly recurrent cortical network model endowed with feedback loops, for short-term memory. Fluctuations are due to highly irregular spike firing, a salient characteristic of cortical neurons. Then, we will analyze a model for long-term memory, based on an autophosphorylation mechanism of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) molecules. There, fluctuations arise from the fact that there are only a small number of CaMKII molecules at each postsynaptic density (putative synaptic memory unit). Our results are twofold. First, we demonstrate analytically and computationally the exponential dependence of stability on the number of neurons in a self-excitatory network, and on the number of CaMKII proteins in a molecular switch. Second, for each of the two systems, we implement graded memory consisting of a group of bistable switches. For the neuronal network we report interesting ramping temporal dynamics as a result of sequentially switching an increasing number of discrete, bistable, units. The general observation of an exponential increase in memory stability with the system size leads to a trade-off between the robustness of memories (which increases with the size of each bistable unit) and the total amount of information storage (which decreases with increasing unit size), which may be optimized in the brain through biological evolution.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=33745711655&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=33745711655&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1063/1.2208923

DO - 10.1063/1.2208923

M3 - Article

VL - 16

JO - Chaos

JF - Chaos

SN - 1054-1500

IS - 2

M1 - 026109

ER -