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J Neurosci. 2008 Jul 23;28(30):7476-91. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4198-07.2008.

Channel density distributions explain spiking variability in the globus pallidus: a combined physiology and computer simulation database approach.

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Department of Biology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Globus pallidus (GP) neurons recorded in brain slices show significant variability in intrinsic electrophysiological properties. To investigate how this variability arises, we manipulated the biophysical properties of GP neurons using computer simulations. Specifically, we created a GP neuron model database with 100,602 models that had varying densities of nine membrane conductances centered on a hand-tuned model that replicated typical physiological data. To test the hypothesis that the experimentally observed variability can be attributed to variations in conductance densities, we compared our model database results to a physiology database of 146 slice recordings. The electrophysiological properties of generated models and recordings were assessed with identical current injection protocols and analyzed with a uniform set of measures, allowing a systematic analysis of the effects of varying voltage-gated and calcium-gated conductance densities on the measured properties and a detailed comparison between models and recordings. Our results indicated that most of the experimental variability could be matched by varying conductance densities, which we confirmed with additional partial block experiments. Further analysis resulted in two key observations: (1) each voltage-gated conductance had effects on multiple measures such as action potential waveform and spontaneous or stimulated spike rates; and (2) the effect of each conductance was highly dependent on the background context of other conductances present. In some cases, such interactions could reverse the effect of the density of one conductance on important excitability measures. This context dependence of conductance density effects is important to understand drug and neuromodulator effects that work by affecting ion channels.

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