Emergence of stable synaptic clusters on dendrites through synaptic rewiring

Thomas Limbacher, Robert Legenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The connectivity structure of neuronal networks in cortex is highly dynamic. This ongoing cortical rewiring is assumed to serve important functions for learning and memory. We analyze in this article a model for the self-organization of synaptic inputs onto dendritic branches of pyramidal cells. The model combines a generic stochastic rewiring principle with a simple synaptic plasticity rule that depends on local dendritic activity. In computer simulations, we find that this synaptic rewiring model leads to synaptic clustering, that is, temporally correlated inputs become locally clustered on dendritic branches. This empirical finding is backed up by a theoretical analysis which shows that rewiring in our model favors network configurations with synaptic clustering. We propose that synaptic clustering plays an important role in the organization of computation and memory in cortical circuits: we find that synaptic clustering through the proposed rewiring mechanism can serve as a mechanism to protect memories from subsequent modifications on a medium time scale. Rewiring of synaptic connections onto specific dendritic branches may thus counteract the general problem of catastrophic forgetting in neural networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number57
JournalFrontiers in Computational Neuroscience
Issue number57
Publication statusPublished - 6 Aug 2020


  • catastrophic forgetting
  • dendrites
  • neuroscience
  • rewiring
  • spiking neural networks
  • structural plasticity
  • synaptic clustering
  • synaptic plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology
  • Information, Communication & Computing


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