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J Neurophysiol. 2004 Jun;91(6):2465-73. Epub 2004 Jan 28.

Sodium along with low-threshold potassium currents enhance coincidence detection of subthreshold noisy signals in MSO neurons.

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Center for Neural Science, New York University, 4 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003-6621, USA.


Voltage-dependent membrane conductances support specific neurophysiological properties. To investigate the mechanisms of coincidence detection, we activated gerbil medial superior olivary (MSO) neurons with dynamic current-clamp stimuli in vitro. Spike-triggered reverse-correlation analysis for injected current was used to evaluate the integration of subthreshold noisy signals. Consistent with previous reports, the partial blockade of low-threshold potassium channels (I(KLT)) reduced coincidence detection by slowing the rise of current needed on average to evoke a spike. However, two factors point toward the involvement of a second mechanism. First, the reverse correlation currents revealed that spike generation was associated with a preceding hyperpolarization. Second, rebound action potentials are 45% larger compared to depolarization-evoked spikes in the presence of an I(KLT) antagonist. These observations suggest that the sodium current (I(Na)) was substantially inactivated at rest. To test this idea, I(Na) was enhanced by increasing extracellular sodium concentration. This manipulation reduced coincidence detection, as reflected by slower spike-triggering current, and diminished the hyperpolarization phase in the reverse-correlation currents. As expected, a small outward bias current decreased the pre-spike hyperpolarization phase, and TTX blockade of I(Na) nearly eliminated the hyperpolarization phase in the reverse correlation current. A computer model including Hodgkin-Huxley type conductances for spike generation and for I(KLT) showed reduction in coincidence detection when I(KLT) was reduced or when I(Na) was increased. We hypothesize that desirable synaptic signals first remove some inactivation of I(Na) and reduce activation of I(KLT) to create a brief temporal window for coincidence detection of subthreshold noisy signals.

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