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Ion channel degeneracy enables robust and tunable neuronal firing rates.


ABSTRACT: Firing rate is an important means of encoding information in the nervous system. To reliably encode a wide range of signals, neurons need to achieve a broad range of firing frequencies and to move smoothly between low and high firing rates. This can be achieved with specific ionic currents, such as A-type potassium currents, which can linearize the frequency-input current curve. By applying recently developed mathematical tools to a number of biophysical neuron models, we show how currents that are classically thought to permit low firing rates can paradoxically cause a jump to a high minimum firing rate when expressed at higher levels. Consequently, achieving and maintaining a low firing rate is surprisingly difficult and fragile in a biological context. This difficulty can be overcome via interactions between multiple currents, implying a need for ion channel degeneracy in the tuning of neuronal properties.

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4586887 | BioStudies | 2015-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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