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Delay- and coupling-induced firing patterns in oscillatory neural loops
For a feedforward loop of oscillatory Hodgkin-Huxley neurons interacting via excitatory chemical synapses, we show that a great variety of spatiotemporal periodic firing patterns can be encoded by properly chosen communication delays and synaptic weights, which contributes to the concept of temporal coding by spikes. These patterns can be obtained by a modulation of the multiple coexisting stable in-phase synchronized states or traveling waves propagating along or against the direction of coupling. We derive explicit conditions for the network parameters allowing us to achieve a desired pattern. Interestingly, whereas the delays directly affect the time differences between spikes of interacting neurons, the synaptic weights control the phase differences. Our results show that already such a simple neural circuit may unfold an impressive spike coding capability.