The striatum is the main input station of the basal ganglia and is strongly associated with motor and cognitive functions. Anatomical evidence suggests that individual striatal neurons are unlikely to share their inputs from the cortex. Using a biologically realistic large-scale network model of striatum and cortico-striatal projections, we provide a functional interpretation of the special anatomical structure of these projections. Specifically, we show that weak pairwise correlation within the pool of inputs to individual striatal neurons enhances the saliency of signal representation in the striatum. By contrast, correlations among the input pools of different striatal neurons render the signal representation less distinct from background activity. We suggest that for the network architecture of the striatum, there is a preferred cortico-striatal input configuration for optimal signal representation. It is further enhanced by the low-rate asynchronous background activity in striatum, supported by the balance between feedforward and feedback inhibitions in the striatal network. Thus, an appropriate combination of rates and correlations in the striatal input sets the stage for action selection presumably implemented in the basal ganglia.
2011. Vol. 7, no 11