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PLoS Comput Biol. 2009 Feb;5(2):e1000290. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000290. Epub 2009 Feb 13.

Stochastically gating ion channels enable patterned spike firing through activity-dependent modulation of spike probability.

Author information

1
Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ashburn, Virginia, United States of America. dudmanj@janelia.hhmi.org

Abstract

The transformation of synaptic input into patterns of spike output is a fundamental operation that is determined by the particular complement of ion channels that a neuron expresses. Although it is well established that individual ion channel proteins make stochastic transitions between conducting and non-conducting states, most models of synaptic integration are deterministic, and relatively little is known about the functional consequences of interactions between stochastically gating ion channels. Here, we show that a model of stellate neurons from layer II of the medial entorhinal cortex implemented with either stochastic or deterministically gating ion channels can reproduce the resting membrane properties of stellate neurons, but only the stochastic version of the model can fully account for perithreshold membrane potential fluctuations and clustered patterns of spike output that are recorded from stellate neurons during depolarized states. We demonstrate that the stochastic model implements an example of a general mechanism for patterning of neuronal output through activity-dependent changes in the probability of spike firing. Unlike deterministic mechanisms that generate spike patterns through slow changes in the state of model parameters, this general stochastic mechanism does not require retention of information beyond the duration of a single spike and its associated afterhyperpolarization. Instead, clustered patterns of spikes emerge in the stochastic model of stellate neurons as a result of a transient increase in firing probability driven by activation of HCN channels during recovery from the spike afterhyperpolarization. Using this model, we infer conditions in which stochastic ion channel gating may influence firing patterns in vivo and predict consequences of modifications of HCN channel function for in vivo firing patterns.

PMID:
19214199
PMCID:
PMC2631146
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000290
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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