Coordinating Synapses

Science Signaling  24 Jan 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 208, pp. ec30
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002878

Cortical microcircuits produce cell assemblies that emit spatiotemporally orchestrated spiking activity. These activity patterns are decoded by the dendrites of downstream neurons. Whether synaptic inputs are clustered or dispersed over target dendrites at a given time is critical for determining dendritic computational power. However, such subcellular dynamics are poorly understood. In rodent organotypic slice cultures, Takahashi et al. found that dendritic spine activities were frequently synchronized within a group of spines in the immediate vicinity of one another. This local synchronization seems to reflect convergent synaptic inputs from intrinsically synchronized presynaptic neuron populations.

N. Takahashi, K. Kitamura, N. Matsuo, M. Mayford, M. Kano, N. Matsuki, Y. Ikegaya, Locally synchronized synaptic inputs. Science 335, 353–356 (2012). [Abstract] [Full Text]