Activity Stabilization in a Population Model of Working Memory by Sinusoidal and Noisy Inputs
According to mechanistic theories of working memory (WM), information is retained as stimulus-dependent persistent spiking activity of cortical neural networks. Yet, how this activity is related to changes in the oscillatory profile observed during WM tasks remains a largely open issue. We explore joint effects of input gamma-band oscillations and noise on the dynamics of several firing rate models of WM. The considered models have a metastable active regime, i.e., they demonstrate long-lasting transient post-stimulus firing rate elevation. We start from a single excitatory-inhibitory circuit and demonstrate that either gamma-band or noise input could stabilize the active regime, thus supporting WM retention. We then consider a system of two circuits with excitatory intercoupling. We find that fast coupling allows for better stabilization by common noise compared to independent noise and stronger amplification of this effect by in-phase gamma inputs compared to anti-phase inputs. Finally, we consider a multi-circuit system comprised of two clusters, each containing a group of circuits receiving a common noise input and a group of circuits receiving independent noise. Each cluster is associated with its own local gamma generator, so all its circuits receive gamma-band input in the same phase. We find that gamma-band input differentially stabilizes the activity of the “common-noise” groups compared to the “independent-noise” groups. If the inter-cluster connections are fast, this effect is more pronounced when the gamma-band input is delivered to the clusters in the same phase rather than in the anti-phase. Assuming that the common noise comes from a large-scale distributed WM representation, our results demonstrate that local gamma oscillations can stabilize the activity of the corresponding parts of this representation, with stronger effect for fast long-range connections and synchronized gamma oscillations.