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Rev Neurosci. 2016 Feb;27(2):159-84. doi: 10.1515/revneuro-2015-0036.

The functional role of all postsynaptic potentials examined from a first-person frame of reference.


When assigning a central role to the neuronal firing, a large number of incoming postsynaptic potentials not utilized during both supra- and subthreshold neuronal activations are not given any functional significance. Local synaptic potentials at the apical dendrites get attenuated as they arrive at the soma to nearly a twentieth of what a synapse proximal to the soma produces. Conservation of these functions necessitates searching for their functional roles. Potentials induced at the postsynapses of neurons of all the neuronal orders activated by sensory inputs carry small bits of sensory information. The activation of these postsynapses by any means other than the activation from their corresponding presynaptic terminals, that also contribute to oscillating potentials, induce the semblance of the arrival of activity from their presynaptic terminals. This is a candidate mechanism for inducing the first-person internal sensory elements of various higher brain functions as a systems property. They also contribute to the firing of subthreshold-activated neurons, including motor neurons. Operational mechanism of inter-postsynaptic functional LINKs can provide necessary structural requirements for these functions. The functional independence of the distal dendritic compartment and recent evidence for in vivo dendritic spikes indicate their independent role in the formation of internal sensory elements. In these contexts, a neuronal soma is flanked by a large number of quasi-functional internal sensory processing units operated using very little energy, even when a neuron is not firing. A large number of possible combinations of internal sensory units explains the corresponding number of specific memory retrievals by the system in response to various cue stimuli.

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