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Spatiotemporally graded NMDA spike/plateau potentials in basal dendrites of neocortical pyramidal neurons

Major, Guy ORCID:, Polsky, Alon, Denk, Winfried, Schiller, Jackie and Tank, David W. 2008. Spatiotemporally graded NMDA spike/plateau potentials in basal dendrites of neocortical pyramidal neurons. Journal of Neurophysiology 99 (5) , pp. 2584-2601. 10.1152/jn.00011.2008

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Glutamatergic inputs clustered over ∼20–40 μm can elicit local N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) spike/plateau potentials in terminal dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurons, inspiring the notion that a single terminal dendrite can function as a decision-making computational subunit. A typical terminal basal dendrite is ∼100–200 μm long: could it function as multiple decision-making subunits? We test this by sequential focal stimulation of multiple sites along terminal basal dendrites of layer 5 pyramidal neurons in rat somatosensory cortical brain slices, using iontophoresis or uncaging of brief glutamate pulses. There was an approximately sevenfold spatial gradient in average spike/plateau amplitude measured at the soma, from ∼3 mV for distal inputs to ∼23 mV for proximal inputs. Spike/plateaus were NMDA receptor (NMDAR) conductance-dominated at all locations. Large Ca2+ transients accompanied spike/plateaus over a ∼10- to 40-μm zone around the input site; smaller Ca2+ transients extended approximately uniformly to the dendritic tip. Spike/plateau duration grew with increasing glutamate and depolarization; high Ca2+ zone size grew with spike/plateau duration. The minimum high Ca2+ zone half-width (just above NMDA spike threshold) increased from distal (∼10 μm) to proximal locations (∼25 μm), as did the NMDA spike glutamate threshold. Depolarization reduced glutamate thresholds. Simulations exploring multi-site interactions based on this demonstrate that if appropriately timed and localized inputs occur in vivo, a single basal dendrite could correspond to a cascade of multiple co-operating dynamic decision-making subunits able to retain information for hundreds of milliseconds, with increasing influence on neural output from distal to proximal. Dendritic NMDA spike/plateaus are thus well-suited to support graded persistent firing.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Publisher: American Physiological Society
ISSN: 0022-3077
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2022 12:17

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