A paradoxical isopotentiality: a spatially uniform noise spectrum in neocortical pyramidal cells

Membrane ion channels and synapses are among the most important computational elements of nerve cells. Both have stochastic components that are reflected in random fluctuations of the membrane potential. We measured the spectral characteristics of membrane voltage noise in vitro at the soma and the apical dendrite of layer 4/5 (L4/5) neocortical neurons of rats near the resting potential. We found a remarkable similarity between the voltage noise power spectra at the soma and the dendrites, despite a marked difference in their respective input impedances. At both sites, the noise levels and the input impedance are voltage dependent; in the soma, the noise level increased from sigma = 0.33 +/- 0.28 mV at 10 mV hyperpolarization from the resting potential to sigma = 0.59 +/- 0.3 at a depolarization of 10 mV. At the dendrite, the noise increased from sigma = 0.34 +/- 0.28 to sigma = 0.56 +/- 0.30 mV, respectively. TTX reduced both the input impedance and the voltage noise, and eliminated their voltage dependence at both locations. We describe a detailed compartmental model of a L4/5 neuron with simplified electrical properties that successfully reproduces the difference in input impedance between dendrites and soma and demonstrates that spatially uniform conductance-base noise sources leads to an apparent isopotential structure which exhibits a uniform power spectra of voltage noise at all locations. We speculate that a homogeneous distribution of noise sources insures that variability in synaptic amplitude as well as timing of action potentials is location invariant.

Authors: Yaron-Jakoubovitch A., Jacobson G., Koch Ch., Segev I. and Yarom Y.
Year of publication: 2008
Journal: Front Cell Neurosci. 13;2:3

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