Simple networks for spike-timing-based computation, with application to olfactory processing.
Spike synchronization across neurons can be selective for the situation where neurons are driven at similar firing rates, a "many are equal" computation. This can be achieved in the absence of synaptic interactions between neurons, through phase locking to a common underlying oscillatory potential. Based on this principle, we instantiate an algorithm for robust odor recognition into a model network of spiking neurons whose main features are taken from known properties of biological olfactory systems. Here, recognition of odors is signaled by spike synchronization of specific subsets of "mitral cells." This synchronization is highly odor selective and invariant to a wide range of odor concentrations. It is also robust to the presence of strong distractor odors, thus allowing odor segmentation within complex olfactory scenes. Information about odors is encoded in both the identity of glomeruli activated above threshold (1 bit of information per glomerulus) and in the analog degree of activation of the glomeruli (approximately 3 bits per glomerulus).