Combined Analog and Action Potential Coding in Hippocampal Mossy Fibers

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Science  03 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5765, pp. 1290-1293
DOI: 10.1126/science.1119055

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In the mammalian cortex, it is generally assumed that the output information of neurons is encoded in the number and the timing of action potentials. Here, we show, by using direct patchclamp recordings from presynaptic hippocampal mossy fiber boutons, that axons transmit analog signals in addition to action potentials. Excitatory presynaptic potentials result from subthreshold dendritic synaptic inputs, which propagate several hundreds of micrometers along the axon and modulate action potential–evoked transmitter release at the mossy fiber–CA3 synapse. This combined analog and action potential coding represents an additional mechanism for information transmission in a major hippocampal pathway.

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