The development of synchronous bursting in neuronal ensembles represents an important change in network behavior. To determine the influences on development of such synchronous bursting behavior we study the dynamics of small networks of sparsely connected excitatory and inhibitory neurons using numerical simulations. The synchronized bursting activities in networks evoked by background spikes are investigated. Specifically, patterns of bursting activity are examined when the balance between excitation and inhibition on neuronal inputs is varied and the fraction of inhibitory neurons in the network is changed. For quantitative comparison of bursting activities in networks, measures of the degree of synchrony are used. We demonstrate how changes in the strength of excitation on inputs of neurons can be compensated by changes in the strength of inhibition without changing the degree of synchrony in the network. The effects of changing several network parameters on the network activity are analyzed and discussed. These changes may underlie the transition of network activity from normal to potentially pathologic (e.g., epileptic) states.
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