Network models of frequency modulated sweep detection. Skorheim S, Razak K, Bazhenov M. PLoS One. 2014 Dec 16;9(12):e115196.

Frequency modulated (FM) sweeps are common in species-specific vocalizations, including human speech. Auditory neurons selective for the direction and rate of frequency change in FM sweeps are present across species, but the synaptic mechanisms underlying such selectivity are only beginning to be understood. Even less is known about mechanisms of experience-dependent changes in FM sweep selectivity. We present three network models of synaptic mechanisms of FM sweep direction and rate selectivity that explains experimental data: (1) The ‘facilitation’ model contains frequency selective cells operating as coincidence detectors, summing up multiple excitatory inputs with different time delays. (2) The ‘duration tuned’ model depends on interactions between delayed excitation and early inhibition. The strength of delayed excitation determines the preferred duration. Inhibitory rebound can reinforce the delayed excitation. (3) The ‘inhibitory sideband’ model uses frequency selective inputs to a network of excitatory and inhibitory cells. The strength and asymmetry of these connections results in neurons responsive to sweeps in a single direction of sufficient sweep rate. Variations of these properties, can explain the diversity of rate-dependent direction selectivity seen across species. We show that the inhibitory sideband model can be trained using spike timing dependent plasticity (STDP) to develop direction selectivity from a non-selective network. These models provide a means to compare the proposed synaptic and spectrotemporal mechanisms of FM sweep processing and can be utilized to explore cellular mechanisms underlying experience- or training-dependent changes in spectrotemporal processing across animal models. Given the analogy between FM sweeps and visual motion, these models can serve a broader function in studying stimulus movement across sensory epithelia.