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Neuron. 1993 Jun;10(6):1101-11.

Measuring the impact of probabilistic transmission on neuronal output.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242.


We have investigated the impact of stochastic transmission on the input-output relations of neurons in hippocampal slices. A synaptic input that fires a cell has a significant trial-to-trial variability in amplitude, reflecting the probabilistic release of transmitter. By measuring miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents, we estimate that synchronous release of a few vesicles can fire a CA1 cell. The firing threshold and variability can be physiologically modulated. Different cell types have distinct firing thresholds and variabilities. Long-term potentiation (LTP) decreases trial-to-trial variability. If after LTP, the stimulus is reduced to produce a threshold response, the variability returns to that observed before LTP. Thus, for a threshold input, the trial-to-trial variability is maintained with LTP. This may be important for the proper functioning of a plastic nervous system.

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