Many neurons in the brain remain active even when an animal is at rest. Over the past few decades, it has become clear that, in some neurons, this activity can persist even when synaptic transmission is blocked and is thus endogenously generated. This “spontaneous” firing, originally described in invertebrate preparations (Alving, 1968; Getting, 1989), arises from specific combinations of intrinsic membrane currents expressed by spontaneously active neurons (Llinas, 1988). Recent work has confirmed that, far from being a biophysical curiosity, spontaneous firing plays a central role in transforming synaptic input into spike output and encoding plasticity in a wide variety of neural circuits. This mini-symposium highlights several key recent advances in our understanding of the origin and significance of spontaneous firing in the mammalian brain.
The beat goes on: spontaneous firing in mammalian neuronal microcircuits
Authors: Häusser M, Raman IM, Otis T, Smith SL, Nelson A, du Lac S, Loewenstein Y, Mahon S, Pennartz C, Cohen I, Yarom Y.
Year of publication: 2004
Journal: J Neurosci. 2004 Oct 20;24(42):9215-9.
Link to publication: