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Biophys J. 2004 Mar;86(3):1820-8.

BDNF boosts spike fidelity in chaotic neural oscillations.

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Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan.


Oscillatory activity and its nonlinear dynamics are of fundamental importance for information processing in the central nervous system. Here we show that in aperiodic oscillations, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a member of the neurotrophin family, enhances the accuracy of action potentials in terms of spike reliability and temporal precision. Cultured hippocampal neurons displayed irregular oscillations of membrane potential in response to sinusoidal 20-Hz somatic current injection, yielding wobbly orbits in the phase space, i.e., a strange attractor. Brief application of BDNF suppressed this unpredictable dynamics and stabilized membrane potential fluctuations, leading to rhythmical firing. Even in complex oscillations induced by external stimuli of 40 Hz (gamma) on a 5-Hz (theta) carrier, BDNF-treated neurons generated more precisely timed spikes, i.e., phase-locked firing, coupled with theta-phase precession. These phenomena were sensitive to K252a, an inhibitor of tyrosine receptor kinases and appeared attributable to BDNF-evoked Na(+) current. The data are the first indication of pharmacological control of endogenous chaos. BDNF diminishes the ambiguity of spike time jitter and thereby might assure neural encoding, such as spike timing-dependent synaptic plasticity.

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