WIAS Preprint No. 2124, (2015)

Noise enhanced coupling between two oscillators with long-term plasticity


  • Lücken, Leonhard
  • Popovych, Oleksandr V.
  • Tass, Peter A.
  • Yanchuk, Serhiy

2010 Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 37N20 92B25 34F05

2008 Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme

  • 05.45Xt, 87.19La, 87.18.Tt, 87.19.lw


  • Coupled oscillators, plasticity, noise, multistability, STDP, phase oscillators, Hodkin-Huxley model




Spike time-dependent plasticity is a fundamental adaptation mechanism of the nervous system. It induces structural changes of synaptic connectivity by regulation of coupling strengths between individual cells depending on their spiking behavior. As a biophysical process its functioning is constantly subjected to natural fluctuations. We study theoretically the influence of noise on a microscopic level by considering only two coupled neurons. Adopting a phase description for the neurons we derive a two-dimensional system which describes the averaged dynamics of the coupling strengths. We show that a multistability of several coupling configurations is possible, where some configurations are not found in systems without noise. Intriguingly, it is possible that a strong bidirectional coupling, which is not present in the noise-free situation, can be stabilized by the noise. This means that increased noise, which is normally expected to desynchronize the neurons, can be the reason for an antagonistic response of the system, which organizes itself into a state of stronger coupling and counteracts the impact of noise. This mechanism, as well as a high potential for multistability, is also demonstrated numerically for a coupled pair of Hodgkin-Huxley neurons.

Appeared in

  • Phys. Rev. E, 93 (2016), pp. 032210/1--032210/15.

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