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J Physiol Paris. 2002 Sep-Dec;96(5-6):517-30.

Oscillatory burst discharge generated through conditional backpropagation of dendritic spikes.

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Neuroscience Research Group, University of Calgary, Calgary Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1.


Gamma frequencies of burst discharge (>40 Hz) have become recognized in select cortical and non-cortical regions as being important in feature extraction, neural synchrony and oscillatory discharge. Pyramidal cells of the electrosensory lateral line lobe (ELL) of Apteronotus leptorhynchus generate burst discharge in relation to specific features of sensory input in vivo that resemble those recognized as gamma frequency discharge when examined in vitro. We have shown that these bursts are generated by an entirely novel mechanism termed conditional backpropagation that involves an intermittent failure of dendritic Na+ spike conduction. Conditional backpropagation arises from a frequency-dependent broadening of dendritic spikes during repetitive discharge, and a mismatch between the refractory periods of somatic and dendritic spikes. A high threshold class of K+ channel, AptKv3.3, is expressed at high levels and distributed over the entire soma-dendritic axis of pyramidal cells. AptKv3.3 channels are shown to contribute to the repolarization of both somatic and dendritic spikes, with pharmacological blockade of dendritic Kv3 channels revealing an important role in controlling the threshold for burst discharge. The entire process of conditional back-propagation and burst output is successfully simulated using a new compartmental model of pyramidal cells that incorporates a cumulative inactivation of dendritic K+ channels during repetitive discharge. This work is important in demonstrating how the success of spike backpropagation can control the output of a principle sensory neuron, and how this process is regulated by the distribution and properties of voltage-dependent K+ channels.

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