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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2008 Jun;18(3):321-31. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2008.08.013.

Synaptic clustering by dendritic signalling mechanisms.

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Department of Physiology, University of Berne, Bern, Switzerland.


Dendritic signal integration is one of the fundamental building blocks of information processing in the brain. Dendrites are endowed with mechanisms of nonlinear summation of synaptic inputs leading to regenerative dendritic events including local sodium, NMDA and calcium spikes. The generation of these events requires distinct spatio-temporal activation patterns of synaptic inputs. We hypothesise that the recent findings on dendritic spikes and local synaptic plasticity rules suggest clustering of common inputs along a subregion of a dendritic branch. These clusters may enable dendrites to separately threshold groups of functionally similar inputs, thus allowing single neurons to act as a superposition of many separate integrate and fire units. Ultimately, these properties expand our understanding about the computational power of neuronal networks.

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