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J Physiol. 2000 Feb 15;523 Pt 1:175-92.

Weak common parallel fibre synapses explain the loose synchrony observed between rat cerebellar golgi cells.

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Born-Bunge Foundation, University of Antwerp - UIA, B-2610 Antwerp, Belgium.


1. In anaesthetized rats, pairs of cerebellar Golgi cells fired synchronously at rest, provided they were aligned along the parallel fibre axis. The observed synchrony was much less precise, however, than that which would be expected to result from common, monosynaptic parallel fibre excitation. 2. To explain this discrepancy, the precision and frequency of spike synchronization (i.e. the width and area of the central peak on the spike train cross-correlogram) were computed in a generic model for varying input, synaptic and neuronal parameters. 3. Correlation peaks between model neurons became broader, and peak area smaller, when the number of afferents increased and each single synapse decreased proportionally in strength. Peak width was inversely proportional to firing rate, but independent of the percentage of shared afferents. Peak area, in contrast, scaled with the percentage of shared afferents but was almost firing rate independent. 4. Broad correlation peaks between pairs of model neurons resulted from the loose spike timing between single model neurons and their afferents. This loose timing reflected a need for long-term synaptic integration to fire the neurons. Model neurons could accomplish this through firing rate adaptation mediated by a Ca2+-activated K+ channel. 5. We conclude that loose synchrony may be entirely explained by shared input from monosynaptic, non-synchronized afferents. The inverse relationship between peak width and firing rate allowed us to distinguish common parallel fibre input from firing rate covariance as a primary cause of loose synchrony between cerebellar Golgi cells in anaesthetized rats.

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