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Neuron. 2011 Dec 22;72(6):1012-24. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.10.015.

Activity-dependent clustering of functional synaptic inputs on developing hippocampal dendrites.

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Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, 1105 BA Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


During brain development, before sensory systems become functional, neuronal networks spontaneously generate repetitive bursts of neuronal activity, which are typically synchronized across many neurons. Such activity patterns have been described on the level of networks and cells, but the fine-structure of inputs received by an individual neuron during spontaneous network activity has not been studied. Here, we used calcium imaging to record activity at many synapses of hippocampal pyramidal neurons simultaneously to establish the activity patterns in the majority of synapses of an entire cell. Analysis of the spatiotemporal patterns of synaptic activity revealed a fine-scale connectivity rule: neighboring synapses (<16 μm intersynapse distance) are more likely to be coactive than synapses that are farther away from each other. Blocking spiking activity or NMDA receptor activation revealed that the clustering of synaptic inputs required neuronal activity, demonstrating a role of developmentally expressed spontaneous activity for connecting neurons with subcellular precision.

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