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High-Probability Uniquantal Transmission at Excitatory Synapses in Barrel Cortex

Science, 12 December 2003
Vol. 302, Issue 5652, p. 1981-1984
DOI: 10.1126/science.1087160

High-Probability Uniquantal Transmission at Excitatory Synapses in Barrel Cortex

  1. R. Angus Silver1,*,,
  2. Joachim Lübke2,
  3. Bert Sakmann3,
  4. Dirk Feldmeyer3,*
  1. 1 Department of Physiology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, U.K.
  2. 2 Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Institut für Medizin, D-52425 Jülich, Germany.
  3. 3 Max-Planck Institut für Medizinische Forschung, Abteilung Zellphysiologie, Jahnstrasse 29, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
  1. To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: a.silver{at}
  • * These authors contributed equally to the work.


The number of vesicles released at excitatory synapses and the number of release sites per synaptic connection are key determinants of information processing in the cortex, yet they remain uncertain. Here we show that the number of functional release sites and the number of anatomically identified synaptic contacts are equal at connections between spiny stellate and pyramidal cells in rat barrel cortex. Moreover, our results indicate that the amount of transmitter released per synaptic contact is independent of release probability and the intrinsic release probability is high. These properties suggest that connections between layer 4and layer 2/3 are tuned for reliable transmission of spatially distributed, timing-based signals.

    • Received for publication 23 May 2003.
    • Accepted for publication 15 October 2003.


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