[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT:
Critical behavior in neural networks is characterized by scale-free avalanche size distributions and can be explained by self-regulatory mechanisms. Theoretical and experimental evidence indicates that information storage capacity reaches its maximum in the critical regime. We study the effect of structural connectivity formed by Hebbian learning on the criticality of network dynamics. The network only endowed with Hebbian learning does not allow for simultaneous information storage and criticality. However, the critical regime can be stabilized by short-term synaptic dynamics in the form of synaptic depression and facilitation or, alternatively, by homeostatic adaptation of the synaptic weights. We show that a heterogeneous distribution of maximal synaptic strengths does not preclude criticality if the Hebbian learning is alternated with periods of critical dynamics recovery. We discuss the relevance of these findings for the flexibility of memory in aging and with respect to the recent theory of synaptic plasticity.
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