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J Neurosci Methods. 2008 Apr 30;169(2):323-65. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2007.11.008. Epub 2007 Nov 22.

In vitro and in vivo measures of evoked excitatory and inhibitory conductance dynamics in sensory cortices.

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Unité de Neurosciences Intégratives et Computationnelles , 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France.


In order to better understand the synaptic nature of the integration process operated by cortical neurons during sensory processing, it is necessary to devise quantitative methods which allow one to infer the level of conductance change evoked by the sensory stimulation and, consequently, the dynamics of the balance between excitation and inhibition. Such detailed measurements are required to characterize the static versus dynamic nature of the non-linear interactions triggered at the single cell level by sensory stimulus. This paper primarily reviews experimental data from our laboratory based on direct conductance measurements during whole-cell patch clamp recordings in two experimental preparations: (1) in vitro, during electrical stimulation in the visual cortex of the rat and (2) in vivo, during visual stimulation, in the primary visual cortex of the anaesthetized cat. Both studies demonstrate that shunting inhibition is expressed as well in vivo as in vitro. Our in vivo data reveals that a high level of diversity is observed in the degree of interaction (from linear to non-linear) and in the temporal interplay (from push-pull to synchronous) between stimulus-driven excitation (E) and inhibition (I). A detailed analysis of the E/I balance during evoked spike activity further shows that the firing strength results from a simultaneous decrease of evoked inhibition and increase of excitation. Secondary, the paper overviews the various computational methods used in the literature to assess conductance dynamics, measured in current clamp as well as in voltage clamp in different neocortical areas and species, and discuss the consistency of their estimations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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