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J Neurosci. 2011 Apr 20;31(16):6108-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0690-11.2011.

Neuronal activity causes rapid changes of lateral amygdala neuronal membrane properties and reduction of synaptic integration and synaptic plasticity in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, The Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University, North Chicago, Illinois 60064, USA. jeremy.rosenkranz@rosalindfranklin.edu


Neuronal membrane properties dictate neuronal responsiveness. Plasticity of membrane properties alters neuronal function and can arise in response to robust neuronal activity. Despite the potential for great impact, there is little evidence for a rapid effect of activity-dependent changes of membrane properties on many neuronal functions in vivo in mammalian brain. In this study it was tested whether periods of neuronal firing lead to a rapid change of membrane properties in neurons of a rat brain region important for some forms of learning, the lateral nucleus of the amygdala, using in vivo intracellular recordings. Our results demonstrate that rapid plasticity of membrane properties occurs in vivo, in response to action potential firing. This plasticity of membrane properties leads to changes of synaptic integration and subsequent synaptic plasticity. These changes require Ca(2+) and hyperpolarization-activated ion channels, but are NMDA independent. Furthermore, the parameters and time course of these changes would not have been predicted from most in vitro studies. The plasticity of membrane properties demonstrated here may represent a basic form of in vivo short-term plasticity that modifies neuronal function.

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