Wave-Processing of Long-Scale Information by Neuronal Chains

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Villacorta-Atienza, José Antonio
Makarov, Valeri A.
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Investigation of mechanisms of information handling in neural assemblies involved in computational and cognitive tasks is a challenging problem. Synergetic cooperation of neurons in time domain, through synchronization of firing of multiple spatially distant neurons, has been widely spread as the main paradigm. Complementary, the brain may also employ information coding and processing in spatial dimension. Then, the result of computation depends also on the spatial distribution of long-scale information. The latter bi-dimensional alternative is notably less explored in the literature. Here, we propose and theoretically illustrate a concept of spatiotemporal representation and processing of long-scale information in laminar neural structures. We argue that relevant information may be hidden in self-sustained traveling waves of neuronal activity and then their nonlinear interaction yields efficient wave-processing of spatiotemporal information. Using as a testbed a chain of FitzHugh-Nagumo neurons, we show that the wave-processing can be achieved by incorporating into the single-neuron dynamics an additional voltage-gated membrane current. This local mechanism provides a chain of such neurons with new emergent network properties. In particular, nonlinear waves as a carrier of long-scale information exhibit a variety of functionally different regimes of interaction: from complete or asymmetric annihilation to transparent crossing. Thus neuronal chains can work as computational units performing different operations over spatiotemporal information. Exploiting complexity resonance these composite units can discard stimuli of too high or too low frequencies, while selectively compress those in the natural frequency range. We also show how neuronal chains can contextually interpret raw wave information. The same stimulus can be processed differently or identically according to the context set by a periodic wave train injected at the opposite end of the chain.
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