Emergence of time persistence in an interpretable data-driven neural network model

S. Wolf , G. Le Goc , S. Cocco, , G. Debrégeas , R. Monasson,

Published 04 Feb. 2022


Establishing accurate as well as interpretable models of networks activity is an open challenge in systems neuroscience. Here we infer an energy-based model of the ARTR, a circuit that controls zebrafish swimming statistics, using functional recordings of the spontaneous activity of hundreds of neurons. Although our model is trained to reproduce the low-order statistics of the network activity at short time-scales, its simulated dynamics quantitatively captures the slowly alternating activity of the ARTR. It further reproduces the modulation of this persistent dynamics by the bath temperature and visual stimulation. Mathematical analysis of the model unveils a low-dimensional landscape-based representation of the ARTR activity, where the slow network dynamics reflects Arrhenius-like barriers crossings between metastable states. Our work thus shows how data-driven models built from large neural populations recordings can be reduced to low-dimensional functional models in order to reveal the fundamental mechanisms controlling the collective neuronal dynamics.