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Elife. 2016 Oct 6;5. pii: e16553. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16553.

Unique membrane properties and enhanced signal processing in human neocortical neurons.

Author information

1
Department of Neurobiology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel.
2
Department of Integrative Neurophysiology, Centre for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
3
Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel.
4
Instituto Cajal, Madrid, Spain.
5
Laboratorio Cajal de Circuitos Corticales, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
6
Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos, Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

The advanced cognitive capabilities of the human brain are often attributed to our recently evolved neocortex. However, it is not known whether the basic building blocks of the human neocortex, the pyramidal neurons, possess unique biophysical properties that might impact on cortical computations. Here we show that layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons from human temporal cortex (HL2/3 PCs) have a specific membrane capacitance (Cm) of ~0.5 µF/cm2, half of the commonly accepted 'universal' value (~1 µF/cm2) for biological membranes. This finding was predicted by fitting in vitro voltage transients to theoretical transients then validated by direct measurement of Cm in nucleated patch experiments. Models of 3D reconstructed HL2/3 PCs demonstrated that such low Cm value significantly enhances both synaptic charge-transfer from dendrites to soma and spike propagation along the axon. This is the first demonstration that human cortical neurons have distinctive membrane properties, suggesting important implications for signal processing in human neocortex.

KEYWORDS:

compartmental modeling; human; human biology; human neurons; medicine; membrane properties; mouse; neurons computation; neuroscience

PMID:
27710767
PMCID:
PMC5100995
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.16553
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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