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Science. 2001 Sep 21;293(5538):2272-5.

Compartmentalized and binary behavior of terminal dendrites in hippocampal pyramidal neurons.

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  • 1Departments of Neurology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.


The dendritic arbor of pyramidal neurons is not a monolithic structure. We show here that the excitability of terminal apical dendrites differs from that of the apical trunk. In response to fluorescence-guided focal photolysis of caged glutamate, individual terminal apical dendrites generated cadmium-sensitive all-or-none responses that were subthreshold for somatic action potentials. Calcium transients produced by all-or-none responses were not restricted to the sites of photolysis, but occurred throughout individual distal dendritic compartments, indicating that electrogenesis is mediated primarily by voltage-gated calcium channels. Compartmentalized and binary behavior of parallel-connected terminal dendrites can greatly expand the computational power of a single neuron.

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