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J Neurophysiol. 1978 Jul;41(4):1014-25.

Synaptic transmission without action potentials: input-output properties of a nonspiking presynaptic neuron.


1. Input-output properties of the inhibitory synaptic connection between non-spiking neurons (EX1) and gastric mill (GM) neurons were examined in the stomatogastric ganglion of the spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus. Current was injected into and the voltage was recorded during current injection, two independent microelectrodes were used. 2. The EX1-GM synaptic connection is a conductance-increase inhibitory type, with an input-output curve that resembles the curve for the squid giant synapse. There is a threshold level of depolarization for transmitter release from the presynaptic cell. Beyond that threshold, increasing presynaptic depolarization causes increasing postsynaptic hyperpolarization (and inhibition). 3. A long presynaptic current step always causes a postsynaptic response with an initial peak of hyperpolarization followed by a decay to a less hyperpolarized plateau level. The plateau level is maintained, in most cells, for the duration of the presynaptic depolarization even over long periods (30 s). 4. The peak, but not the plateau, part of the postsynaptic response is sensitive to the past history of the synaptic connection. If a large conditioning pulse is applied to the presynaptic cell causing a large postsynaptic hyperpolarization, then the postsynaptic response to a later presynaptic test depolarization will have a reduced peak, leaving the plateau component unchanged.

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