Differential Shunting of EPSPs by Action Potentials

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Science  05 Jan 2001:
Vol. 291, Issue 5501, pp. 138-141
DOI: 10.1126/science.291.5501.138

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Neurons encode information and communicate via action potentials, which are generated following the summation of synaptic events. It is commonly assumed that action potentials reset the membrane potential completely, allowing another round of synaptic integration to begin. We show here that the conductances underlying the action potential act instead as a variable reset of synaptic integration. The strength of this reset is cell type–specific and depends on the kinetics, location, and timing of the synaptic input. As a consequence, distal synapses, as well as inputs mediated byN-methyl-d-aspartate receptor activation, can contribute disproportionately to synaptic integration during action potential firing.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: m.hausser{at}

  • Present address: Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, NJ 07974, USA.

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