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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2005 Jan;87(1):109-43.

Does inhibition balance excitation in neocortex?

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University Laboratory of Physiology, Oxford University, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PT, UK.


The distribution of inhibitory and excitatory synapses on neocortical neurons is at odds with a simple view that cortical functioning can persist by maintaining a balance between inhibitory and excitatory drives. Pyramidal cells can potentially be shut down by very powerful proximal inhibitory synapses, despite these accounting for perhaps less than 1% of their total number of synaptic inputs. Interneurons in contrast are dominated by excitatory inputs. These may be powerful enough to effect an apparent depolarizing block at the soma. In this extreme case though, models suggest that action potentials are generated down the axon, and the cells behave like integrate-and-fire neurons. We discuss possible network implications of these modelling studies.

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