Synapse distribution suggests a two-stage model of dendritic integration in CA1 pyramidal neurons.
ABSTRACT: Competing models have been proposed to explain how neurons integrate the thousands of inputs distributed throughout their dendritic trees. In a simple global integration model, inputs from all locations sum in the axon. In a two-stage integration model, inputs contribute directly to dendritic spikes, and outputs from multiple branches sum in the axon. These two models yield opposite predictions of how synapses at different dendritic locations should be scaled if they are to contribute equally to neuronal output. We used serial-section electron microscopy to reconstruct individual apical oblique dendritic branches of CA1 pyramidal neurons and observe a synapse distribution consistent with the two-stage integration model. Computational modeling suggests that the observed synapse distribution enhances the contribution of each dendritic branch to neuronal output.
Project description:Cortical pyramidal neurons receive thousands of synaptic inputs arriving at different dendritic locations with varying degrees of temporal synchrony. It is not known if different locations along single cortical dendrites integrate excitatory inputs in different ways. Here we have used two-photon glutamate uncaging and compartmental modeling to reveal a gradient of nonlinear synaptic integration in basal and apical oblique dendrites of cortical pyramidal neurons. Excitatory inputs to the proximal dendrite sum linearly and require precise temporal coincidence for effective summation, whereas distal inputs are amplified with high gain and integrated over broader time windows. This allows distal inputs to overcome their electrotonic disadvantage, and become surprisingly more effective than proximal inputs at influencing action potential output. Thus, single dendritic branches can already exhibit nonuniform synaptic integration, with the computational strategy shifting from temporal coding to rate coding along the dendrite.
Project description:Neuronal computation involves the integration of synaptic inputs that are often distributed over expansive dendritic trees, suggesting the need for compensatory mechanisms that enable spatially disparate synapses to influence neuronal output. In hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons, such mechanisms have indeed been reported, which normalize either the ability of distributed synapses to drive action potential initiation in the axon or their ability to drive dendritic spiking locally. Here we report that these mechanisms can coexist, through an elegant combination of distance-dependent regulation of synapse number and synaptic expression of AMPA and NMDA receptors. Together, these complementary gradients allow individual dendrites in both the apical and basal dendritic trees of hippocampal neurons to operate as facile computational subunits capable of supporting both global integration in the soma/axon and local integration in the dendrite.
Project description:A fundamental question in understanding neuronal computations is how dendritic events influence the output of the neuron. Different forms of integration of neighbouring and distributed synaptic inputs, isolated dendritic spikes and local regulation of synaptic efficacy suggest that individual dendritic branches may function as independent computational subunits. In the present paper, we study how these local computations influence the output of the neuron. Using a simple cascade model, we demonstrate that triggering somatic firing by a relatively small dendritic branch requires the amplification of local events by dendritic spiking and synaptic plasticity. The moderately branching dendritic tree of granule cells seems optimal for this computation since larger dendritic trees favor local plasticity by isolating dendritic compartments, while reliable detection of individual dendritic spikes in the soma requires a low branch number. Finally, we demonstrate that these parallel dendritic computations could contribute to the generation of multiple independent place fields of hippocampal granule cells.
Project description:The subcellular locations of synapses on pyramidal neurons strongly influences dendritic integration and synaptic plasticity. Despite this, there is little quantitative data on spatial distributions of specific types of synaptic input. Here we use array tomography (AT), a high-resolution optical microscopy method, to examine thalamocortical (TC) input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons. We first verified the ability of AT to identify synapses using parallel electron microscopic analysis of TC synapses in layer 4. We then use large-scale array tomography (LSAT) to measure TC synapse distribution on L5 pyramidal neurons in a 1.00 × 0.83 × 0.21 mm(3) volume of mouse somatosensory cortex. We found that TC synapses primarily target basal dendrites in layer 5, but also make a considerable input to proximal apical dendrites in L4, consistent with previous work. Our analysis further suggests that TC inputs are biased toward certain branches and, within branches, synapses show significant clustering with an excess of TC synapse nearest neighbors within 5-15 ?m compared to a random distribution. Thus, we show that AT is a sensitive and quantitative method to map specific types of synaptic input on the dendrites of entire neurons. We anticipate that this technique will be of wide utility for mapping functionally-relevant anatomical connectivity in neural circuits.
Project description:The integration of synaptic inputs onto dendrites provides the basis for neuronal computation. Whereas recent studies have begun to outline the spatial organization of synaptic inputs on individual neurons, the underlying principles related to the specific neural functions are not well understood. Here we perform two-photon dendritic imaging with a genetically-encoded glutamate sensor in awake monkeys, and map the excitatory synaptic inputs on dendrites of individual V1 superficial layer neurons with high spatial and temporal resolution. We find a functional integration and trade-off between orientation-selective and color-selective inputs in basal dendrites of individual V1 neurons. Synaptic inputs on dendrites are spatially clustered by stimulus feature, but functionally scattered in multidimensional feature space, providing a potential substrate of local feature integration on dendritic branches. Furthermore, apical dendrite inputs have larger receptive fields and longer response latencies than basal dendrite inputs, suggesting a dominant role for apical dendrites in integrating feedback in visual information processing.
Project description:Dendritic integration of excitatory and inhibitory inputs is critical for neuronal computation, but the underlying rules remain to be elucidated. Based on realistic modeling and experiments in rat hippocampal slices, we derived a simple arithmetic rule for spatial summation of concurrent excitatory glutamatergic inputs (E) and inhibitory GABAergic inputs (I). The somatic response can be well approximated as the sum of the excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP), the inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP), and a nonlinear term proportional to their product (k*EPSP*IPSP), where the coefficient k reflects the strength of shunting effect. The k value shows a pronounced asymmetry in its dependence on E and I locations. For I on the dendritic trunk, k decays rapidly with E-I distance for proximal Es, but remains largely constant for distal Es, indicating a uniformly high shunting efficacy for all distal Es. For I on an oblique branch, the shunting effect is restricted mainly within the branch, with the same proximal/distal asymmetry. This asymmetry can be largely attributed to cable properties of the dendrite. Further modeling studies showed that this rule also applies to the integration of multiple coincident Es and Is. Thus, this arithmetic rule offers a simple analytical tool for studying E-I integration in pyramidal neurons that incorporates the location specificity of GABAergic shunting inhibition.
Project description:To act as computational devices, neurons must perform mathematical operations as they transform synaptic and modulatory input into output firing rate. Experiments and theory indicate that neuronal firing typically represents the sum of synaptic inputs, an additive operation, but multiplication of inputs is essential for many computations. Multiplication by a constant produces a change in the slope, or gain, of the input-output relationship, amplifying or scaling down the sensitivity of the neuron to changes in its input. Such gain modulation occurs in vivo, during contrast invariance of orientation tuning, attentional scaling, translation-invariant object recognition, auditory processing and coordinate transformations. Moreover, theoretical studies highlight the necessity of gain modulation in several of these tasks. Although potential cellular mechanisms for gain modulation have been identified, they often rely on membrane noise and require restrictive conditions to work. Because nonlinear components are used to scale signals in electronics, we examined whether synaptic nonlinearities are involved in neuronal gain modulation. We used synaptic stimulation and the dynamic-clamp technique to investigate gain modulation in granule cells in acute slices of rat cerebellum. Here we show that when excitation is mediated by synapses with short-term depression (STD), neuronal gain is controlled by an inhibitory conductance in a noise-independent manner, allowing driving and modulatory inputs to be multiplied together. The nonlinearity introduced by STD transforms inhibition-mediated additive shifts in the input-output relationship into multiplicative gain changes. When granule cells were driven with bursts of high-frequency mossy fibre input, as observed in vivo, larger inhibition-mediated gain changes were observed, as expected with greater STD. Simulations of synaptic integration in more complex neocortical neurons suggest that STD-based gain modulation can also operate in neurons with large dendritic trees. Our results establish that neurons receiving depressing excitatory inputs can act as powerful multiplicative devices even when integration of postsynaptic conductances is linear.
Project description:Neurons are classified according to action potential firing in response to current injection. While such firing patterns are shaped by the composition and distribution of ion channels, modelling studies suggest that the geometry of dendritic branches also influences temporal firing patterns. Verifying this link is crucial to understanding how neurons transform their inputs to output but has so far been technically challenging. Here, we investigate branching-dependent firing by pruning the dendritic tree of pyramidal neurons. We use a focused ultrafast laser to achieve highly localized and minimally invasive cutting of dendrites, thus keeping the rest of the dendritic tree intact and the neuron functional. We verify successful dendrotomy via two-photon uncaging of neurotransmitters before and after dendrotomy at sites around the cut region and via biocytin staining. Our results show that significantly altering the dendritic arborisation, such as by severing the apical trunk, enhances excitability in layer V cortical pyramidal neurons as predicted by simulations. This method may be applied to the analysis of specific relationships between dendritic structure and neuronal function. The capacity to dynamically manipulate dendritic topology or isolate inputs from various dendritic domains can provide a fresh perspective on the roles they play in shaping neuronal output.
Project description:In the primary visual cortex (V1) of many mammalian species, neurons are spatially organized according to their preferred orientation into a highly ordered map. However, whether and how the various presynaptic inputs to V1 neurons are organized relative to the neuronal orientation map remain unclear. To address this issue, we constructed genetically encoded calcium indicators targeting axon boutons in two colors and used them to map the organization of axon boutons of V1 intrinsic and V2-V1 feedback projections in tree shrews. Both connections are spatially organized into maps according to the preferred orientations of axon boutons. Dual-color calcium imaging showed that V1 intrinsic inputs are precisely aligned to the orientation map of V1 cell bodies, while the V2-V1 feedback projections are aligned to the V1 map with less accuracy. Nonselective integration of intrinsic presynaptic inputs around the dendritic tree is sufficient to reproduce cell body orientation preference. These results indicate that a precisely aligned map of intrinsic inputs could reinforce the neuronal map in V1, a principle that may be prevalent for brain areas with function maps.
Project description:Layer 5 pyramidal neurons process information from multiple cortical layers to provide a major output of cortex. Because of technical limitations it has remained unclear how these cells integrate widespread synaptic inputs located in distantly separated basal and tuft dendrites. Here, we obtained in vivo two-photon calcium imaging recordings from the entire dendritic field of layer 5 motor cortex neurons. We demonstrate that during subthreshold activity, basal and tuft dendrites exhibit spatially localized, small-amplitude calcium transients reflecting afferent synaptic inputs. During action potential firing, calcium signals in basal dendrites are linearly related to spike activity, whereas calcium signals in the tuft occur unreliably. However, in both dendritic compartments, spike-associated calcium signals were uniformly distributed throughout all branches. Thus, our data support a model of widespread, multibranch integration with a direct impact by basal dendrites and only a partial contribution on output signaling by the tuft.