Publication Type:Journal Article
Source:J Neurophysiol, Volume 109, Issue 1, p.13-30 (2013)
Keywords:Animals, Cats, Cerebral Cortex, Dendrites, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Membrane Potentials, Models, Neurological, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Receptors, AMPA, Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate, Synapses, Synaptic Transmission, Thalamus
Two main excitatory synapses are formed at the dendritic arbor of first-order nuclei thalamocortical (TC) neurons. Ascending sensory axons primarily establish contacts at large proximal dendrites, whereas descending corticothalamic fibers form synapses on thin distal dendrites. With the use of a multicomparment computational model based on fully reconstructed TC neurons from the ventroposterolateral nucleus of the cat, we compared local responses at the site of stimulation as well as somatic responses induced by both α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR)- and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-mediated currents. We found that AMPAR-mediated responses, when synapses were located at proximal dendrites, induced a larger depolarization at the level of soma, whereas NMDAR-mediated responses were more efficient for synapses located at distal dendrites. The voltage transfer and transfer impedance were higher for NMDAR than for AMPAR activation at any location. For both types of synaptic current and for both input locations at the dendritic arbor, somatic responses were characterized by a low variability despite the large variability found in local responses in dendrites. The large neurons had overall smaller somatic responses than small neurons, but this relation was not found in local dendritic responses. We conclude that in TC cells, the dendritic location of small synaptic inputs does not play a major role in the amplitude of a somatic response, but the size of the neuron does. The variability of response amplitude between cells was much larger than the variability within cells. This suggests possible functional segregation of TC neurons of different size.