Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Dendrites Shape Interneuron Firing

Science Signaling  05 Jan 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 103, pp. ec4
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3103ec4

Basket cells, a group of fast-spiking inhibitory interneurons, play an important part in the function of neuronal networks. The mechanisms underlying the high temporal precision and short latency of basket cell activity are still not fully understood. Hu et al. investigated dendritic functions in fast-spiking hippocampal basket cells and found that action potentials are initiated in the axon and propagate back into the dendrites without activity dependence but with strongly reduced amplitude. This is very different from widely investigated pyramidal cell dendrites. The authors provide a mechanism for this difference in the high potassium to sodium conductance ratios in the dendrites of the interneurons. Additional computational modeling indicates that these dendritic mechanisms can explain the high-frequency firing and precise timing of basket cells seen in network activity in vivo.

H. Hu, M. Martina, P. Jonas, Dendritic mechanisms underlying rapid synaptic activation of fast-spiking hippocampal interneurons. Science 327, 52–58 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]