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J Neurophysiol. 2013 Dec;110(12):2830-48. doi: 10.1152/jn.00195.2013. Epub 2013 Sep 4.

Discharge regularity in the turtle posterior crista: comparisons between experiment and theory.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.


Intra-axonal recordings were made from bouton fibers near their termination in the turtle posterior crista. Spike discharge, miniature excitatory postsynaptic potentials (mEPSPs), and afterhyperpolarizations (AHPs) were monitored during resting activity in both regularly and irregularly discharging units. Quantal size (qsize) and quantal rate (qrate) were estimated by shot-noise theory. Theoretically, the ratio, σV/(dμV/dt), between synaptic noise (σV) and the slope of the mean voltage trajectory (dμV/dt) near threshold crossing should determine discharge regularity. AHPs are deeper and more prolonged in regular units; as a result, dμV/dt is larger, the more regular the discharge. The qsize is larger and qrate smaller in irregular units; these oppositely directed trends lead to little variation in σV with discharge regularity. Of the two variables, dμV/dt is much more influential than the nearly constant σV in determining regularity. Sinusoidal canal-duct indentations at 0.3 Hz led to modulations in spike discharge and synaptic voltage. Gain, the ratio between the amplitudes of the two modulations, and phase leads re indentation of both modulations are larger in irregular units. Gain variations parallel the sensitivity of the postsynaptic spike encoder, the set of conductances that converts synaptic input into spike discharge. Phase variations reflect both synaptic inputs to the encoder and postsynaptic processes. Experimental data were interpreted using a stochastic integrate-and-fire model. Advantages of an irregular discharge include an enhanced encoder gain and the prevention of nonlinear phase locking. Regular and irregular units are more efficient, respectively, in the encoding of low- and high-frequency head rotations, respectively.


afterhyperpolarizations; coding efficiency; discharge regularity; integrate-and-fire model; miniature excitatory postsynaptic potentials

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[Available on 2014/12/15]
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