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J Physiol. 2006 Nov 1;576(Pt 3):873-86. Epub 2006 Aug 24.

The afterhyperpolarization conductance exerts the same control over the gain and variability of motoneurone firing in anaesthetized cats.

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Laboratoire de Neurophysique et Physiologie, UMR 8119, CNRS and Université René Descartes, 45 rue des Saints-Pères, 75270 Paris Cedex 06, France.


Does the afterhyperpolarization current control the gain and discharge variability of motoneurones according to the same law? We investigated this issue in lumbar motoneurones of anaesthetized cats. Using dynamic clamp, we measured the conductance, time constant and driving force of the AHP current in a sample of motoneurones and studied how the gain was correlated to these quantities. To study the action of the AHP on the discharge variability and to compare it to its action on the gain, we injected an artificial AHP-like current in motoneurones. This increased the natural AHP. In three motoneurones, we abolished most of the natural AHP with the calcium chelator BAPTA to investigate the condition where the discharge was essentially controlled by the artificial AHP. Our results demonstrate that both the gain and the coefficient of variation of the firing rate are inversely proportional to the magnitude and to the time constant of the artificial AHP conductance. This indicates that the AHP exerts the same control over the gain and the variability. This mechanism ensures that the variability of the discharge is modulated with the gain. This guarantees a great regularity of the discharge when the motoneurone is in a low excitability state and hence good control of the force produced.

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