Short-term memory is often correlated with persistent changes in neuronal firing rates in response to transient inputs. We model the persistent maintenance of an analog eye position signal by an oculomotor neural integrator receiving transient eye movement commands. Previous models of this network rely on precisely tuned positive feedback with <1% tolerance to mistuning, or use neurons that exhibit large discontinuities in firing rate with small changes in eye position. We show analytically how using neurons with multiple bistable dendritic compartments can enhance the robustness of eye fixations to mistuning while reproducing the approximately linear and continuous relationship between neuronal firing rates and eye position, and the dependence of neuron pair firing rate relationships on the direction of the previous saccade. The response of the model to continuously varying inputs makes testable predictions for the performance of the vestibuloocular reflex. Our results suggest that dendritic bistability could stabilize the persistent neural activity observed in working memory systems.
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