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Exact subthreshold integration with continuous spike times in discrete time neural network simulations

A. Morrison; Sirko Straube; H.E. Plesser; M. Diesmann
In: Neural Computation, Vol. 19, Pages 47-79, MIT Press, 2007.


Very large networks of spiking neurons can be simulated efficiently in parallel under the constraint that spike times are bound to an equidistant time grid. Within this scheme, the subthreshold dynamics of a wide class of integrate-and-fire-type neuron models can be integrated exactly from one grid point to the next. However, the loss in accuracy caused by restricting spike times to the grid can have undesirable consequences, which has led to interest in interpolating spike times between the grid points to retrieve an adequate representation of network dynamics. We demonstrate that the exact integration scheme can be combined naturally with off-grid spike events found by interpolation. We show that by exploiting the existence of a minimal synaptic propagation delay, the need for a central event queue is removed, so that the precision of event-driven simulation on the level of single neurons is combined with the efficiency of time-driven global scheduling. Further, for neuron models with linear subthreshold dynamics, even local event queuing can be avoided, resulting in much greater efficiency on the single-neuron level. These ideas are exemplified by two implementations of a widely used neuron model. We present a measure for the efficiency of network simulations in terms of their integration error and show that for a wide range of input spike rates, the novel techniques we present are both more accurate and faster than standard techniques.

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