We analyze simple morphological configurations that represent gap-junctional coupling between neuronal processes or between muscle fibers. Specifically, we use cable theory and simulations to examine the consequences of current flow from one cable to other gap-junctionally coupled passive cables. When the proximal end of the first cable is voltage clamped, the amplitude of the electrical signal in distal portions of the second cable depends on the cable diameter. However, this amplitude does not simply increase if cable diameter is increased, as expected from the larger length constant; instead, an optimal diameter exists. The optimal diameter arises because the dependence of voltage attenuation along the second cable on cable diameter follows two opposing rules. As cable diameter increases, the attenuation decreases due to a larger length constant yet increases because of a reduction in current density arising from the limiting effect of the gap junction on current flow into the second cable. The optimal diameter depends on the gap junction resistance and cable parameters. In branched cables, dependence on diameter is local and thus may serve to functionally compartmentalize branches that are coupled to other cells. Such compartmentalization may be important when periodic signals or action potentials cause the current flow across gap junctions.
Model; gap junction; cable theory; coupling; voltage clamp
Basilar membrane responses to pairs of tones were measured, with the use of a laser velocimeter, in the basal turn of the cochlea in anesthetized chinchillas. Frequency spectra of basilar membrane responses to primary tones with frequencies (f1, f2) close to the characteristic frequency (CF) contain prominent odd-order two-tone distortion products (DPs) at frequencies both higher and lower than CF (such as 2f1 − f2, 3f − 2f2, 2f2 − f1 and 3f2 − 2f1). For equal-level primaries with frequencies such that 2f1 − f2 equals CF, the magnitude of the 2f1 − f2 DP grows with primary level at linear or faster rates at low stimulus levels, but it saturates or decreases slightly at higher levels. For a fixed level of one of the primary tones, the magnitude of the 2f1 − f2 DP is a nonmonotonic function of the level of the other primary tone. For low intensities of the variable tone, the grows at a rate of 2f1 − f2 DP grows at a rate of ~2 dB/dB with f1 level and 1 dB/dB with f2 level. DP magnitudes decrease rapidly with increasing primary frequency ratio (f2/f1) at low stimulus levels. For more intense stimuli, DP magnitudes remain constant or decrease slowly over a wide range of frequency ratios until a critical value is reached, at which DP magnitudes fall with slopes as steep as −300 dB/octave. As stimulus level grows, DP phases increasingly lag large f2/f1 ratios, but exhibit leads for small f2/f1 ratios. Cochlear exposure to an intense tone that produces large sensitivity losses for the primary frequencies (but only small losses for tones with frequency equal to 2f1 − f2) causes a substantial decrease in magnitude of the 2f1 − f2 DP. This result demonstrates that the 2f1 − f2 DP originates at the basilar membrane region with CFs corresponding to the primary frequencies and propagates to the location with CF equal to the DP frequency. 2f1 − f2 DPs on the basilar membrane resemble those measured in human psychophysics in most respects. However, the magnitude of basilar membrane DPs does not show the nonmonotonic dependence on f2/f1 ratio evident in DP otoacoustic emissions.
Communication between neurones in the central nervous system depends on synaptic transmission. The efficacy of synapses is determined by pre- and postsynaptic factors that can be characterized using quantal parameters such as the probability of neurotransmitter release, number of release sites, and quantal size. Existing methods of estimating the quantal parameters based on multiple probability fluctuation analysis (MPFA) are limited by their requirement for long recordings to acquire substantial data sets. We therefore devised an algorithm, termed Bayesian Quantal Analysis (BQA), that can yield accurate estimates of the quantal parameters from data sets of as small a size as 60 observations for each of only 2 conditions of release probability. Computer simulations are used to compare its performance in accuracy with that of MPFA, while varying the number of observations and the simulated range in release probability. We challenge BQA with realistic complexities characteristic of complex synapses, such as increases in the intra- or intersite variances, and heterogeneity in release probabilities. Finally, we validate the method using experimental data obtained from electrophysiological recordings to show that the effect of an antagonist on postsynaptic receptors is correctly characterized by BQA by a specific reduction in the estimates of quantal size. Since BQA routinely yields reliable estimates of the quantal parameters from small data sets, it is ideally suited to identify the locus of synaptic plasticity for experiments in which repeated manipulations of the recording environment are unfeasible.
synapse; probability theory; neurotransmitter release
The number and morphology of synaptic ribbons at photoreceptor and bipolar cell terminals has been reported to change on a circadian cycle. Here we sought to determine whether this phenomenon exists at goldfish Mb-type bipolar cell terminals with the aim of exploring the role of ribbons in transmitter release. We examined the physiology and ultrastructure of this terminal around two time points: midday and midnight. Nystatin perforated-patch recordings of membrane capacitance (Cm) revealed that synaptic vesicle exocytosis evoked by short depolarizations was reduced at night, even though Ca2+ currents were larger. The efficiency of exocytosis (measured as the ΔCm jump per total Ca2+ charge influx) was thus significantly lower at night. The paired-pulse ratio remained unchanged, however, suggesting that release probability was not altered. Hence the decreased exocytosis likely reflects a smaller readily releasable vesicle pool at night. Electron microscopy of single sections from intact retinas averaged 65% fewer ribbons at night. Interestingly, the number of active zones did not change from day to night, only the probability of finding a ribbon at an active zone. Additionally, synaptic vesicle halos surrounding the ribbons were more completely filled at night when these ON-type bipolar cells are more hyperpolarized. There was no change, however, in the physical dimensions of synaptic ribbons from day to night. These results suggest that the size of the readily releasable vesicle pool and the efficiency of exocytosis are reduced at night when fewer ribbons are present at bipolar cell terminal active zones.
The electrophysiological properties of the oblique branches of CA1 pyramidal neurons are largely unknown and very difficult to investigate experimentally. These relatively thin dendrites make up the majority of the apical tree surface area and constitute the main target of Schaffer collateral axons from CA3. Their electrogenic properties might have an important role in defining the computational functions of CA1 neurons. It is thus important to determine if and to what extent the back- and forward propagation of action potentials (AP) in these dendrites could be modulated by local properties such as morphology or active conductances. In the first detailed study of signal propagation in the full extent of CA1 oblique dendrites, we used 27 reconstructed three-dimensional morphologies and different distributions of the A-type K+ conductance (KA), to investigate their electrophysiological properties by computational modeling. We found that the local KA distribution had a major role in modulating action potential back propagation, whereas the forward propagation of dendritic spikes originating in the obliques was mainly affected by local morphological properties. In both cases, signal processing in any given oblique was effectively independent of the rest of the neuron and, by and large, of the distance from the soma. Moreover, the density of KA in oblique dendrites affected spike conduction in the main shaft. Thus the anatomical variability of CA1 pyramidal cells and their local distribution of voltage-gated channels may suit a powerful functional compartmentalization of the apical tree.
The pyloric rhythm of the stomatogastric ganglion of the crab, Cancer borealis, slows or stops when descending modulatory inputs are acutely removed. However, the rhythm spontaneously resumes after one or more days in the absence of neuromodulatory input. We recorded continuously for days to characterize quantitatively this recovery process. Activity bouts lasting 40 to 900 seconds began several hours after removal of neuromodulatory input and were followed by stable rhythm recovery after 1-4 days. Bout duration was not related to the intervals (0.3 to 800 minutes) between bouts. During an individual bout the frequency rapidly increased and then decreased more slowly. Photoablation of back-filled neuromodulatory terminals in the STG neuropil had no effect on activity bouts or recovery, suggesting that these processes are intrinsic to the STG neuronal network. After removal of neuromodulatory input the phase relationships of the components of the triphasic pyloric rhythm were altered, and then over time the phase relationships moved towards their control values. Although at low pyloric rhythm frequency the phase relationships among pyloric network neurons depended on frequency, the changes in frequency during recovery did not completely account for the change in phase seen after rhythm recovery. Additionally, we suggest that activity bouts represent underlying mechanisms controlling the restructuring of the pyloric network to allow resumption of an appropriate output following removal of neuromodulatory input.
central pattern generator; stomatogastric ganglion; crustaceans; homeostasis; plasticity
Neurons exhibit long-term excitability changes necessary for maintaining proper cell and network activity in response to various inputs and perturbations. For instance, the adult crustacean pyloric network can spontaneously recover rhythmic activity after complete shutdown resulting from permanent removal of neuromodulatory inputs. Dissociated lobster stomatogastric ganglion (STG) neurons have been shown to spontaneously develop oscillatory activity via excitability changes. Rhythmic electrical stimulation can eliminate these oscillatory patterns in some cells. The ionic mechanisms underlying these changes are only partially understood. We used dissociated crab STG neurons to study the ionic mechanisms underlying spontaneous recovery of rhythmic activity and stimulation-induced activity changes. Similar to lobster neurons, rhythmic activity spontaneously develops in crab STG neurons. Rhythmic hyperpolarizing stimulation can eliminate, but more commonly accelerate the emergence of stable oscillatory activity depending on Ca++ influx at hyperpolarized voltages. Our main finding is that up-regulation of a Ca++-current and down-regulation of a high-threshold K+-current underlies the spontaneous homeostatic development of oscillatory activity. However, because of a non-linear dependence on stimulus frequency, hyperpolarization-induced oscillations appear to be inconsistent with a homeostatic regulation of activity. We find no difference in the activity patterns or the underlying ionic currents involved between neurons of the fast pyloric and the slow gastric mill networks during the first ten days in isolation. Dynamic-clamp experiments confirm that these conductance modifications can explain the observed activity changes. We conclude that spontaneous and stimulation-induced excitability changes in STG neurons can both result in intrinsic oscillatory activity via regulation of the same two conductances.
calcium; potassium currents; stomatogastric; excitability; homeostasis; oscillations
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is increasingly used to modify brain activity noninvasively and to study brain-behavior relations. However, results can be variable and the conditions that affect the functional efficacy of TMS remain unclear. Here we show that online TMS can either facilitate or suppress perceptual functions depending on the baseline level of activity of the targeted brain region. When TMS was applied over the motion selective region V5/MT during a simple motion detection task, subjects’ motion detection ability was impaired. Similarly, suppression of V5/MT activity using offline 1 Hz rTMS disrupted performance in a subsequent motion detection task. However, paradoxically, online V5/MT TMS had a facilitatory effect on motion detection if V5/MT had been suppressed by offline 1 Hz rTMS prior to the motion detection task. These results demonstrate that TMS can have an unexpected facilitatory effect on behavior when the targeted neural population is in a suppressed state. Our findings provide further evidence for the view that the effects of TMS are modulated by the initial activation state of the targeted neural population.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation; online TMS; offline 1 Hz TMS; suppression; motion detection; V5/MT
The control and execution of movement could potentially be altered by the presence of stroke-induced weakness if muscles are incapable of generating sufficient power. The purpose of this study was to identify compensatory strategies during a forward (sagittal) reaching task for twenty persons with chronic stroke and ten healthy age-matched controls. We hypothesized that the paretic anterior deltoid would be maximally activated (i.e., saturated) during a reaching task and that task completion would require activation of additional muscles, resulting in compensatory movements out of the sagittal plane. For reaching movements by control subjects, joint motion remained largely in the sagittal plane and hand trajectories were smooth and direct. Movement characteristics of the non-paretic arm of stroke subjects were similar to control subjects except for small increases in the abduction angle and the percentage that anterior deltoid was activated. In contrast, reaching movements of the paretic arm of stroke subjects were characterized by increased activation of all muscles, especially the lateral deltoid, in addition to the anterior deltoid, with resulting shoulder abduction power and segmented and indirect hand motion. For the paretic arm of stroke subjects, muscle and kinetic compensations increased with impairment severity and weaker muscles were used at a higher percentage of their available muscle activity. These results suggest that the inability to generate sufficient force with the typical agonists involved during a forward reaching task may necessitate compensatory muscle recruitment strategies to complete the task.
PMID: 16014786 CAMSID: cams2416
Upper extremity; arm; motor control; biomechanics; EMG; rehabilitation
Intracellular recordings were made from nerve fibers in the posterior ampullary nerve near the neuroepithelium. Calyx-bearing afferents were identified by their distinctive efferent-mediated responses. Such fibers receive inputs from both type I and type II hair cells. Type II inputs are made by synapses on the outer face of the calyx ending and on the boutons of dimorphic fibers. Quantal activity, consisting of brief mEPSPs, is reduced by lowering the external concentration of Ca2+ and blocked by the AMPA-receptor antagonist CNQX. Poisson statistics govern the timing of mEPSPs, which occur at high rates (250–2,500/s) in the absence of mechanical stimulation. Excitation produced by canal-duct indentation can increase mEPSP rates to nearly 5,000/s. As the rate increases, mEPSPs can change from a monophasic depolarization to a biphasic depolarizing– hyperpolarizing sequence, both of whose components are blocked by CNQX. Blockers of voltage-gated currents affect mEPSP size, which is decreased by TTX and is increased by linopirdine. mEPSP size decreases several fold after impalement. The size decrease, although it may be triggered by the depolarization occurring during impalement, persists even at hyperpolarized membrane potentials. Nonquantal transmission is indicated by shot-noise calculations and by the presence of voltage modulations after quantal activity is abolished pharmacologically. An ultrastructural study shows that inner-face inputs from type I hair cells outnumber outer-face inputs from type II hair cells by an almost 6:1 ratio.
Maintaining the physiologic integrity of paralyzed limbs may be critical for those with spinal cord injury (SCI) to be viable candidates for a future cure. No long-term intervention has been tested to attempt to prevent the severe musculoskeletal deterioration that occurs after SCI. The purposes of this study were to determine whether a long-term neuromuscular electrical stimulation training program can preserve the physiological properties of the plantar flexor muscles (peak torque, fatigue index, torque-time integral, and contractile speed) as well as influence distal tibia trabecular bone mineral density (BMD). Subjects began unilateral plantar flexion electrical stimulation training within 6 wk after SCI while the untrained leg served as a control. Mean compliance for the 2-yr training program was 83%. Mean estimated compressive loads delivered to the tibia were ~1–1.5 times body weight. The training protocol yielded significant trained versus untrained limb differences for torque (+24%), torque-time integral (+27%), fatigue index (+50%), torque rise time (+45%), and between-twitch fusion (+15%). These between-limb differences were even greater when measured at the end of a repetitive stimulation protocol (125 contractions). Peripheral quantitative computed tomography revealed 31% higher distal tibia trabecular BMD in trained limbs than in untrained limbs. The intervention used in this study was sufficient to limit many of the deleterious muscular and skeletal adaptations that normally occur after SCI. Importantly, this method of load delivery was feasible and may serve as the basis for an intervention to preserve the musculoskeletal properties of individuals with SCI.
The biomechanical characteristics of stiff knee gait following neurological injury include decreased knee flexion velocity at toe-off, which may be due to exaggerated quadriceps activity. The neuromuscular mechanism underlying this abnormal activity is unclear, although hyperexcitable heteronymous reflexes may be a source of impaired coordination. The present study examines the contribution of reflex activity from hip flexors on knee extensors following stroke and its association with reduced swing-phase knee flexion during walking. Twelve individuals poststroke and six control subjects were positioned in supine on a Biodex dynamometer with the ankle and knee held in a static position. Isolated hip extension movements were imposed at 60, 90, and 120°/s through a 50° excursion to end-range hip extension. Reflexive responses of the rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL), and vastus medialis (VM) were quantified during and after the imposed hip rotation. Gait analysis was also performed for all subjects in the stroke group. In subjects with stroke, imposed hip extension evoked a brief reflexive response in the quadriceps, followed by a heightened level of sustained activity. The initial response was velocity dependent and was larger in the stroke group than in the control group. In contrast, the prolonged response was not velocity dependent, was significantly greater in the VL and RF in subjects with stroke, and, importantly, was correlated to decreased swing-phase knee flexion. Hyperexcitable heteronymous connections from hip flexors to knee extensors appear to elicit prolonged quadriceps activity and may contribute to altered swing-phase knee kinematics following stroke.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Excitation of the spiny subtype of hilar neurons in the fascia dentata was characterized by intracellular recording from hilar cells in hippocampal slices. Stimulation of the outer molecular layer was used to activate the perforant path. Evoked responses were examined, as well as the large spontaneous excitatory potentials that are a distinctive characteristic of spiny hilar cells.Excitatory potentials that occurred spontaneously, as well as those that occurred in response to outer molecular layer stimulation, were similar among the cells that were sampled, regardless of morphological variations such as the presence or absence of thorny excrescences. Spontaneous and evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) were complex depolarizations that often had several discrete peaks. Spontaneous EPSPs increased in amplitude slightly with hyperpolarization, and evoked EPSPs clearly increased with hyperpolarization.Applications of selective antagonists of excitatory amino acid receptors were used to determine which excitatory amino acid receptor mediates EPSPs of these cells. 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) was used to block the receptor sub-type selective for the agonists α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) and kainic acid (the “AMPA/kainate” receptor). 2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV) was used to block receptors specific for the agonist N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA; the “NMDA” receptor). Perfusion with CNQX (5-25 μM) completely blocked all spontaneous and evoked excitation, even when activity was examined at relatively depolarized membrane potentials and a low concentration of extracellular magnesium (0.5 mM) was used. Under these conditions, APV (25–50 μM) had no detectable effect on spontaneous activity but did increase the stimulus strength required to elicit responses to outer molecular layer stimulation.When extracellular magnesium was lowered to 0 mM (nominally), there was strong evidence for a contribution of NMDA receptors to spontaneous and evoked EPSPs. Thus, when cells were perfused with 0 mM extracellular magnesium and 5 μM CNQX, spontaneous depolarizations were present and EPSPs could be triggered by stimulation of the outer molecular layer. Both the spontaneous and evoked EPSPs were blocked by 25 μM APV.Because γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptors can cause depolarizations in hippocampal neurons, the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline was used to determine whether some of the EPSPs were mediated by GABAergic neurons that are normally activated by spontaneous release of excitatory amino acids. Bicuculline (5–25 μM) had no effect on spontaneous depolarizations, and led to an enhancement of evoked depolarizations. Therefore it does not appear that GABAA receptor-mediated depolarizations contribute to hilar cell depolarizations. However, these experiments do suggest that GABAergic inhibition is involved in limiting excitation of hilar neurons to outer molecular layer stimulation.These results suggest that excitatory activity of dentate spiny hilar neurons is similar among spiny cells, consistent with the observed physiological homogeneity of spiny hilar cells described previously with respect to their membrane properties. In addition, the results show that AMPA/kainate receptors contribute substantially to excitation that occurs spontaneously and by afferent stimulation. NMDA receptors appear to contribute to evoked and spontaneous depolarizations when extracellular magnesium levels are extremely low. Finally, although the effects of bicuculline suggest a role of GABA and GABAA receptors in evoked responses, GABA does not appear to be involved in spontaneous or evoked depolarizations.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
1. Extracellular and intracellular recordings in rat hippocampal slices were used to compare the synaptic responses to perforant path stimulation of granule cells of the dentate gyrus, spiny “mossy” cells of the hilus, and area CA3c pyramidal cells of hippocampus. Specifically, we asked whether aspects of the local circuitry could explain the relative vulnerability of spiny hilar neurons to various insults to the hippocampus.
2. Spiny hilar cells demonstrated a surprising lack of inhibition after perforant path activation, despite robust paired-pulse inhibition and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) in adjacent granule cells and area CA3c pyramidal cells in response to the same stimulus in the same slice. However, when the slice was perfused with excitatory amino acid antagonists [6-cyano-7-nitro-quinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX), or CNQX wtlh 2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV)], IPSPs could be observed in spiny hilar cells in response to perforant path stimulation.
3. The IPSPs evoked in spiny hilar cells in the presence of CNQX were similar in their reversal potentials and bicuculline sensitivity to IPSPs recorded in dentate granule cells or hippocampal pyramidal cells in the absence of CNQX.
4. These results demonstrate that, at least in slices, perforant path stimulation of spiny hilar cells is primarily excitatory and, when excitation is blocked, underlying inhibition can be revealed. This contrasts to the situation for dentate and hippocampal principal cells, which are ordinarily dominated by inhibition, and only when inhibition is compromised can the full extent of excitation be appreciated.
5. These results suggest that the circuitry of the dentate region may be a factor in determining the vulnerability and resistance of dentate neurons. The results also provide a clue to the particular local circuit inhibitory interneurons of the dentate gyrus that inhibit spiny hilar cells.
The auditory system encodes time with sub-millisecond accuracy. To shed new light on the basic mechanism underlying this precise temporal neuronal coding, we analyzed the neurophonic potential, a characteristic multiunit response, in the barn owl’s nucleus laminaris. We report here that the relative time measure of phase delay is robust against changes in sound level, with a precision sharper than 20 µs. Absolute measures of delay, such as group delay or signal-front delay, had much greater temporal jitter, for example due to their strong dependence on sound level. Our findings support the hypothesis that phase delay underlies the sub-millisecond precision of the representation of interaural time difference needed for sound localization.
The nature of the synaptic connection from the auditory nerve onto the cochlear nucleus neurons has a profound impact on how sound information is transmitted. Short-term synaptic plasticity, by dynamically modulating synaptic strength, filters information contained in the firing patterns. In the sound-localization circuits of the brain stem, the synapses of the timing pathway are characterized by strong short-term depression. We investigated the short-term synaptic plasticity of the inputs to the bird’s cochlear nucleus angularis (NA), which encodes intensity information, by using chick embryonic brain slices and trains of electrical stimulation. These excitatory inputs expressed a mixture of short-term facilitation and depression, unlike those in the timing nuclei that only depressed. Facilitation and depression at NA synapses were balanced such that postsynaptic response amplitude was often maintained throughout the train at high firing rates (>100 Hz). The steady-state input rate relationship of the balanced synapses linearly conveyed rate information and therefore transmits intensity information encoded as a rate code in the nerve. A quantitative model of synaptic transmission could account for the plasticity by including facilitation of release (with a time constant of ~40 ms), and a two-step recovery from depression (with one slow time constant of ~8 s, and one fast time constant of ~20 ms). A simulation using the model fit to NA synapses and auditory nerve spike trains from recordings in vivo confirmed that these synapses can convey intensity information contained in natural train inputs.
The cochlear nucleus angularis (NA) is widely assumed to form the starting point of a brain stem pathway for processing sound intensity in birds. Details of its function are unclear, however, and its evolutionary origin and relationship to the mammalian cochlear-nucleus complex are obscure. We have carried out extracellular single-unit recordings in the NA of ketamine-anesthetized barn owls. The aim was to re-evaluate the extent of heterogeneity in NA physiology because recent studies of cellular morphology had established several distinct types. Extensive characterization, using tuning curves, phase locking, peristimulus time histograms and rate-level functions for pure tones and noise, revealed five major response types. The most common one was a primary-like pattern that was distinguished from auditory-nerve fibers by showing lower vector strengths of phase locking and/or lower spontaneous rates. Two types of chopper responses were found (chopper-transient and a rare chopper-sustained), as well as onset units. Finally, we routinely encountered a complex response type with a pronounced inhibitory component, similar to the mammalian typeIV. Evidence is presented that this range of response types is representative for birds and that earlier conflicting reports may be due to methodological differences. All five response types defined were similar to well-known types in the mammalian cochlear nucleus. This suggests convergent evolution of neurons specialized for encoding different behaviorally relevant features of the auditory stimulus. It remains to be investigated whether the different response types correlate with morphological types and whether they establish different processing streams in the auditory brain stem of birds.
Antisera directed against hyperpolarization-activated mixed-cation (“Ih”) and K+ (“Kir”) channels bind to some somata in the ganglion cell layer of rat and rabbit retina. Additionally, the termination of hyperpolarizing current injections can trigger spikes in some cat retinal ganglion cells, suggesting a rebound depolarization due to activation of Ih. However, patch-clamp studies have reported that rat ganglion cells lack inward rectification, or present an inwardly rectifying K+ current. We therefore tested whether hyperpolarization activates Ih in dissociated, adult rat retinal ganglion cell somata. We report here that while we found no inward rectification in some cells, and a Kir-like current in a few cells, hyperpolarization activated Ih in roughly 75% of the cells we recorded from in voltage clamp. We show that this current is blocked by Cs+ or ZD7288 and only slightly reduced by Ba2+, that the current amplitude and reversal potential are sensitive to extracellular Na+ and K+, and that we found no evidence of Kir in cells presenting Ih. In current clamp, injecting hyperpolarizing current induced a slowly relaxing membrane hyperpolarization that rebounded to a few action potentials when the hyperpolarizing current was stopped; both the membrane potential relaxation and rebound spikes were blocked by ZD7288. These results provide the first measurement of Ih in mammalian retinal ganglion cells, and indicate that the ion channels of rat retinal ganglion cells may vary in ways not expected from previous voltage and current recordings.
Ih; inward rectification; voltage-gated current
Spiking in central neurons depends on the availability of inward and outward currents activated by depolarization, and on the activation and priming of currents by hyperpolarization. Of these processes, priming by hyperpolarization is the least described. In the case of T-type Ca2+ current availability, the interplay of hyperpolarization and depolarization has been studied most completely in expression systems, in part because of the difficulty of pharmacologically separating the Ca2+ currents of native neurons. To facilitate understanding of this current under physiological conditions, we measured T-type current of isolated goldfish retinal ganglion cells with perforated-patch voltage clamp methods in solutions containing a normal extracellular Ca2+ concentration. The voltage-sensitivities and rates of current activation, inactivation, deactivation, and recovery from inactivation were similar to those of expressed α1G (CaV3.1) Ca2+ channel clones, except that the rate of deactivation was significantly faster. We reproduced the amplitude and kinetics of measured T currents with a numerical simulation based on a kinetic model developed for an α1G Ca2+ channel. Finally, we show that this model predicts the increase of T-type current made available between resting potential and spike threshold by repetitive hyperpolarizations presented at rates that are within the bandwidth of signals processed in situ by these neurons.
T-type calcium current; kinetics; retina; native neuron; excitability
We tested whether dopamine receptor activation modulates the voltage-gated Na+ current of goldfish retinal ganglion cells, using a fast voltage-clamp amplifier, perforated-patch whole-cell mode, and a physiological extracellular Na+ concentration. As found in other cells, activators of D1-type dopamine receptors and of protein kinase A reduced the amplitude of current activated by depolarizations from resting potential, without altering the current kinetics or activation range. However, D1-type dopamine receptor activation also accelerated the rate of entry into inactivation during subthreshold depolarizations, and slowed the rate of recovery from inactivation after single, brief depolarizations. Our results provide the first evidence in any preparation that D1-type receptor activation can produce both of these latter effects.
Na+ current; inactivation; dopamine; excitability; retina
The most favored model of humidity transduction views the cuticular wall of insect hygroreceptive sensilla as a hygromechanical transducer. Hygroscopic swelling or shrinking alters the geometry of the wall, deforming the dendritic membranes of the moist and dry cells. The small size the sensilla and their position surrounded by elevated structures creates technical difficulties to mechanically stimulate them by direct contact. The present study investigated hygroreceptors on the antennae of the cockroach and the stick insect. Accurately controlled, homogeneous mechanical input was delivered by modulating air pressure. Both the moist and dry cells responded not only to changes in air pressure, but also in the opposite direction, as observed during changes in air humidity. The moist-cell’s excitatory response to increasing humidity and increasing air pressure implies that swelling of the hygroscopic cuticle compresses the dendrites, and the dry-cell’s excitatory response to decreasing humidity and decreasing air pressure implies that shrinking of the hygroscopic cuticle expands the dendrites. The moist and dry cells of the stick insect are more sensitive to pressure changes than those of the cockroach, but the responses to air pressure are generally weaker than to humidity. Therefore, the hygroreceptive sensilla differ in their physical properties and constitutions. Furthermore, the mechanical parameters associated with homogeneous changes in air pressure on the sensillum surface can only partially account for the responses of the moist and dry cells of both species to humidity stimulation.
Mechanical hygrometer model; in vivo electrophysiological recordings; moist cells and dry cells; cockroach; stick insect
The six-layered mammalian neocortex evolved from the three-layered paleocortex, which is retained in present-day reptiles such as the turtle. Thus the turtle offers an opportunity to examine which cellular and circuit properties are fundamental to cortical function. We characterized the dendritic properties of pyramidal neurons in different cortical regions of mature turtles, Pseudemys scripta elegans, using whole cell recordings and calcium imaging from the axon, soma, and dendrites in a slice preparation. The firing properties, in response to intrasomatic depolarization, resembled those previously recorded with sharp electrodes in this preparation. Somatic spikes led to active backpropagating high-amplitude dendritic action potentials and intracellular calcium ion concentration ([Ca2+]i) changes at all dendritic locations, suggesting that both backpropagation and dendritic voltage-gated Ca2+ channels are primitive traits. We found no indication that Ca2+ spikes could be evoked in the dendrites, but fast Na+ spikes could be initiated there following intradendritic stimulation. Several lines of evidence indicate that fast, smaller-amplitude somatic spikes (“prepotentials”) that are easily recorded in this preparation are generated in the axon. Most synaptically activated [Ca2+]i changes resulted from Ca2+ entry through voltage-gated channels. In some cells synaptic stimulation evoked a delayed Ca2+ wave due to release from internal stores following activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors. With some small differences these properties resemble those of pyramidal neurons in mammalian species. We conclude that spike backpropagation, dendritic Ca2+ channels, and synaptically activated Ca2+ release are primitive and conserved features of cortical pyramidal cells, and therefore likely fundamental to cortical function.
Independent component analysis (ICA) is a technique that can be used to extract the source signals from sets of signal mixtures where the sources themselves are unknown. The analysis of optical recordings of invertebrate neuronal networks with fast voltage-sensitive dyes could benefit greatly from ICA. These experiments can generate hundreds of voltage traces containing both redundant and mixed recordings of action potentials originating from unknown numbers of neurons. ICA can be used as a method for converting such complex data sets into single-neuron traces, but its accuracy for doing so has never been empirically evaluated. Here, we tested the accuracy of ICA for such blind source separation by simultaneously performing sharp electrode intracellular recording and fast voltage-sensitive dye imaging of neurons located in the central ganglia of Tritonia diomedea and Aplysia californica, using a 464-element photodiode array. After running ICA on the optical data sets, we found that in 34 of 34 cases the intracellularly recorded action potentials corresponded 100% to the spiking activity of one of the independent components returned by ICA. We also show that ICA can accurately sort action potentials into single neuron traces from a series of optical data files obtained at different times from the same preparation, allowing one to monitor the network participation of large numbers of individually identifiable neurons over several recording episodes. Our validation of the accuracy of ICA for extracting the neural activity of many individual neurons from noisy, mixed, and redundant optical recording data sets should enable the use of this powerful large-scale imaging approach for studies of invertebrate and suitable vertebrate neuronal networks.
The role of inhibition in sensory cortical map plasticity is not well understood. Here we tested whether inhibition contributes to expression of receptive field plasticity in developing rat somatosensory (S1) cortex. In normal rats, microiontophoresis of gabazine (SR 95531), a competitive γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-A receptor antagonist, preferentially disinhibited surround whisker responses relative to principal whisker responses, indicating that GABAA inhibition normally acts to sharpen whisker tuning. Plasticity was induced by transiently depriving adolescent rats of all but one whisker; this causes layer 2/3 (L2/3) receptive fields to shift away from the deprived principal whisker and toward the spared surround whisker. In units with shifted receptive fields, gabazine preferentially disinhibited responses to the deprived principal whisker, unlike in controls, suggesting that GABAA inhibition was acting to preferentially suppress these responses relative to spared whisker responses. This effect was not observed for L2/3 units that did not express receptive field plasticity or in layer 4, where receptive field plasticity did not occur. Thus GABAA inhibition promoted expression of sensory map plasticity by helping to sharpen receptive fields around the spared input.