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Neuroscience. 1985 Aug;15(4):933-46.

The function of dendritic spines: a theoretical study.


A modeling procedure is proposed which introduces the cable equivalent of dendritic spines into the Rall model of spiny interneurons in the spinal cord. At this point combined morphological and physiological works have given some insight into the possible role of a single spine and the function of a single spine has been studied by theoretical computations [Jack, Noble and Tsien (1975) Electric Current Flow in Excitable Cells, pp. 218-223. Oxford University Press, Oxford; Koch and Poggio (1983) Trends Neurosci. 6, 80-83; Perkel (1983) J. Physiol., Paris 78, 695-699]. The goal of the present paper is two-fold: (a) to stress the gross function of the spine system in the excitability of dendrites; and (b) to emphasize the role of spines in the dynamic input/output function of neurons. The simulation procedure is based on the well-known compartmental method. (1) The kinetics of active somatic and dendritic compartments are taken from a currently available spinal interneuron model to match the physiological data of large dorsal horn neurons carrying spines. (2) Beside the prolongation of the somatic excitatory postsynaptic potential, the model suggests that the spiny neuron increases the differences in the latency and height of excitatory postsynaptic potential as a function of the electrotonic position of input. The characteristics of the excitatory postsynaptic potential can be modified by the changes in spine geometry and the ratio of cytoplasmic resistances of spine stalk to that of main dendritic shaft. (3) Dendritic electroresponsiveness, which was already postulated for dorsal horn neurons, is analysed by the model including calcium and slow potassium systems. It is concluded that the participation of the spine stalk in active processes can highly modify the input dependence of response pattern. Depolarization-dependent Ca2+ accumulation in spines may reflect the interaction of spine stalks. (4) Passive antidromic spread of action potential can be suppressed in spiny cells. Analysis of active antidromic spread shows the probable importance of spines located near the soma. Centripetal vs centrifugal conduction of dendritic action potential may depend on the spine distribution along the tree and change in electrical parameters of spines.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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