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J Neurosci Res. 1975;1(3-4):207-25.

A hybrid compartmental model for the alligator Purkinje cell. I: Preferred somatopetal conduction of dendritic spikes and soma-axon interaction.


A compartmental hardware model of an alligator Purkinje cell is described, consisting of a branched dendritic tree with four zones of spike generation and electrically excitable soma and initial-segment regions. Passive properties of the model compartments are represented by a cable analog circuit. Simulated action potentials, generated by a combination of depolarizing and hyperpolarizing conductance changes, are triggered in active compartments when the simulated membrane potential passes through preset thresholds. These were set at values corresponding to 28mV depolarization in the dendrites, 22 mV in the soma, and 7 mV in the initial-segment compartment. Synaptic inputs consisting of brief (0.35 msec) rectangular conductance changes give rise to exponentially decaying postsynaptic potentials in the input compartment which are electrotonically spread to other compartments. Orthodromic activation of the model neuron by computer-generated random pulse trains generates a simple spike discharge in the initial-segment compartment without evoking complex spikes. Synchronized excitatory input to the same compartments, however, does evoke a complex spike response in the soma and initial segment, coupled with dendritic spikes. Following antidromic activation of the model neuron, dendritic spikes are not generated, demonstrating a tendency in the dendritic tree for preferential conduction of spikes toward the soma. Investigation of some of the factors underlying this tendency suggests that variations in voltage attenuation due to dendritic geometry, convergence of electrotonically spread dendritic spikes, and the relative durations of dendritic and somatic action potentials may contribute to it. The presence of a threshold gradient in the dendritic tree, proposed by LlinĂ¡s and his coworkers, was not found to be necessary to explain this tendency toward somatopetal conduction, although it cannot be excluded by the model. Examination of the role of the conically shaped initial-segment region suggests that this zone may provide a low-pass filter for signals conducted electrotonically from the axon to the soma, blocking repolarization of the soma during the complex spike burst generated in the axon.

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