Precise and Reliable Brain Trains

Science's STKE  26 Jun 2001:
Vol. 2001, Issue 88, pp. tw7
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2001.88.tw7

The precision of action potential timing has become a central issue for the understanding of interneuron function in the cortex. Using paired recordings in brain slices, Galarreta and Hestrin (see the news story by Helmuth) studied the reliability of precise spike transmission between pyramidal cells and fast-spiking interneurons, a subset of cortical inhibitory cells. Neuronal firing at this connection occurred during a limited time window that lasted for about 1 millisecond and corresponded closely to the rising phase of the excitatory postynaptic event. This precise transmission may constitute an essential mechanism that enables the synchronous firing of fast-spiking GABAergic networks.

M. Galarreta, S. Hestrin, Spike transmission and synchrony detection in networks of GABAergic interneurons. Science 292, 2295-2299 (2001). [Abstract] [Full Text]

L. Helmuth, Synchronizing the brain's signals. Science 292, 2233 (2001). [Full Text]