Dependence of EPSP Efficacy on Synapse Location in Neocortical Pyramidal Neurons

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Science  08 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5561, pp. 1907-1910
DOI: 10.1126/science.1067903

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Neurons receive thousands of synaptic inputs throughout elaborate dendritic trees. Here we determine the somatic impact of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) generated at known dendritic sites in neocortical pyramidal neurons. As inputs became more distal, somatic EPSP amplitude decreased, whereas use-dependent depression increased. Despite marked attenuation (>40-fold), when coactivated within a narrow time window (∼10 milliseconds), distal EPSPs could directly influence action potential output following dendritic spike generation. These findings reveal that distal EPSPs are ineffective sources of background somatic excitation, but through coincidence detection have a powerful transient signaling role.

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