Enhanced Dendritic Compartmentalization in Human Cortical Neurons.
ABSTRACT: The biophysical features of neurons shape information processing in the brain. Cortical neurons are larger in humans than in other species, but it is unclear how their size affects synaptic integration. Here, we perform direct electrical recordings from human dendrites and report enhanced electrical compartmentalization in layer 5 pyramidal neurons. Compared to rat dendrites, distal human dendrites provide limited excitation to the soma, even in the presence of dendritic spikes. Human somas also exhibit less bursting due to reduced recruitment of dendritic electrogenesis. Finally, we find that decreased ion channel densities result in higher input resistance and underlie the lower coupling of human dendrites. We conclude that the increased length of human neurons alters their input-output properties, which will impact cortical computation. VIDEO ABSTRACT.
Project description:Dendritic integration can expand the information-processing capabilities of neurons. However, the recruitment of active dendritic processing in vivo and its relationship to somatic activity remain poorly understood. Here, we use two-photon GCaMP6f imaging to simultaneously monitor dendritic and somatic compartments in the awake primary visual cortex. Activity in layer 5 pyramidal neuron somata and distal apical trunk dendrites shows surprisingly high functional correlation. This strong coupling persists across neural activity levels and is unchanged by visual stimuli and locomotion. Ex vivo combined somato-dendritic patch-clamp and GCaMP6f recordings indicate that dendritic signals specifically reflect local electrogenesis triggered by dendritic inputs or high-frequency bursts of somatic action potentials. In contrast to the view that dendrites are only sparsely recruited under highly specific conditions in vivo, our results provide evidence that active dendritic integration is a widespread and intrinsic feature of cortical computation.
Project description:The morphology of confirmed projection neurons in the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) of the rat was examined by filling these cells retrogradely with biotinylated dextran amine (BDA) injected into the visual cortex. BDA-labeled projection neurons varied widely in the shape and size of their cell somas, with mean cross-sectional areas ranging from 60-340 µm(2). Labeled projection neurons supported 7-55 dendrites that spanned up to 300 µm in length and formed dendritic arbors with cross-sectional areas of up to 7.0 × 10(4) µm(2). Primary dendrites emerged from cell somas in three broad patterns. In some dLGN projection neurons, primary dendrites arise from the cell soma at two poles spaced approximately 180° apart. In other projection neurons, dendrites emerge principally from one side of the cell soma, while in a third group of projection neurons primary dendrites emerge from the entire perimeter of the cell soma. Based on these three distinct patterns in the distribution of primary dendrites from cell somas, we have grouped dLGN projection neurons into three classes: bipolar cells, basket cells and radial cells, respectively. The appendages seen on dendrites also can be grouped into three classes according to differences in their structure. Short "tufted" appendages arise mainly from the distal branches of dendrites; "spine-like" appendages, fine stalks with ovoid heads, typically are seen along the middle segments of dendrites; and "grape-like" appendages, short stalks that terminate in a cluster of ovoid bulbs, appear most often along the proximal segments of secondary dendrites of neurons with medium or large cell somas. While morphologically diverse dLGN projection neurons are intermingled uniformly throughout the nucleus, the caudal pole of the dLGN contains more small projection neurons of all classes than the rostral pole.
Project description:?-aminobutyric acid-mediated (GABAergic) inhibition plays a critical role in shaping neuronal activity in the neocortex. Numerous experimental investigations have examined perisomatic inhibitory synapses, which control action potential output from pyramidal neurons. However, most inhibitory synapses in the neocortex are formed onto pyramidal cell dendrites, where theoretical studies suggest they may focally regulate cellular activity. The precision of GABAergic control over dendritic electrical and biochemical signaling is unknown. By using cell type-specific optical stimulation in combination with two-photon calcium (Ca(2+)) imaging, we show that somatostatin-expressing interneurons exert compartmentalized control over postsynaptic Ca(2+) signals within individual dendritic spines. This highly focal inhibitory action is mediated by a subset of GABAergic synapses that directly target spine heads. GABAergic inhibition thus participates in localized control of dendritic electrical and biochemical signaling.
Project description:The spatial organization of synaptic inputs on the dendritic tree of cortical neurons is considered to play an important role in the dendritic integration of synaptic activity. Active electrical properties of dendrites and mechanisms of dendritic integration have been studied for a long time. New technological developments are now enabling the characterization of the spatial organization of synaptic inputs on dendrites. However, quantitative methods for the analysis of such data are lacking. In order to place cluster parameters into the framework of dendritic integration and synaptic summation, these parameters need to be assessed rigorously in a quantitative manner. Here I present an approach for the analysis of synaptic input clusters on the dendritic tree that is based on combinatorial analysis of the likelihoods to observe specific input arrangements. This approach is superior to the commonly applied analysis of nearest neighbor distances between synaptic inputs comparing their distribution to simulations with random reshuffling or bootstrapping. First, the new approach yields exact likelihood values rather than approximate numbers obtained from simulations. Second and more importantly, the new approach identifies individual clusters and thereby allows to quantify and characterize individual cluster properties.
Project description:One of the fundamental problems in neurobiology is to understand the cellular mechanism for sustained neuronal activity (neuronal UP states). Prefrontal pyramidal neurons readily switch to a long-lasting depolarized state after suprathreshold stimulation of basal dendrites. Analysis of the dendritic input-output function revealed that basal dendrites operate in a somewhat binary regimen (DOWN or UP) in regard to the amplitude of the glutamate-evoked electrical signal. Although the amplitude of the dendritic potential quickly becomes saturated (dendritic UP state), basal dendrites preserve their ability to code additional increase in glutamatergic input. Namely, after the saturation of the plateau amplitude, an additional increase in excitatory input is interpreted as an increase in plateau duration. Experiments performed in tetrodotoxin indicate that the maintenance of a stable depolarized state does not require inhibitory inputs to "balance" the excitation. In the absence of action potential-dependent (network-driven) GABAergic transmission, pyramidal neurons respond to brief (5 ms) glutamate pulses with stable long-lasting (approximately 500 ms) depolarizations. Voltage-sensitive dye recordings revealed that this somatic plateau depolarization is precisely time-locked with the regenerative dendritic plateau potential. The somatic plateau rises a few milliseconds after the onset of the dendritic transient and collapses with the breakdown of the dendritic plateau depolarization. In our in vitro model, the stable long-lasting somatic depolarization (UP state like) is a direct consequence of the local processing of a strong excitatory glutamatergic input arriving on the basal dendrite. The slow component of the somatic depolarization accurately mirrors the glutamate-evoked dendritic plateau potential (dendritic UP state).
Project description:Dendritic spines are the nearly ubiquitous site of excitatory synaptic input onto neurons and as such are critically positioned to influence diverse aspects of neuronal signalling. Decades of theoretical studies have proposed that spines may function as highly effective and modifiable chemical and electrical compartments that regulate synaptic efficacy, integration and plasticity. Experimental studies have confirmed activity-dependent structural dynamics and biochemical compartmentalization by spines. However, there is a longstanding debate over the influence of spines on the electrical aspects of synaptic transmission and dendritic operation. Here we measure the amplitude ratio of spine head to parent dendrite voltage across a range of dendritic compartments and calculate the associated spine neck resistance (R(neck)) for spines at apical trunk dendrites in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons. We find that R(neck) is large enough (~500 M?) to amplify substantially the spine head depolarization associated with a unitary synaptic input by ~1.5- to ~45-fold, depending on parent dendritic impedance. A morphologically realistic compartmental model capable of reproducing the observed spatial profile of the amplitude ratio indicates that spines provide a consistently high-impedance input structure throughout the dendritic arborization. Finally, we demonstrate that the amplification produced by spines encourages electrical interaction among coactive inputs through an R(neck)-dependent increase in spine head voltage-gated conductance activation. We conclude that the electrical properties of spines promote nonlinear dendritic processing and associated forms of plasticity and storage, thus fundamentally enhancing the computational capabilities of neurons.
Project description:Neuronal dendrites are electrically excitable: they can generate regenerative events such as dendritic spikes in response to sufficiently strong synaptic input. Although such events have been observed in many neuronal types, it is not well understood how active dendrites contribute to the tuning of neuronal output in vivo. Here we show that dendritic spikes increase the selectivity of neuronal responses to the orientation of a visual stimulus (orientation tuning). We performed direct patch-clamp recordings from the dendrites of pyramidal neurons in the primary visual cortex of lightly anaesthetized and awake mice, during sensory processing. Visual stimulation triggered regenerative local dendritic spikes that were distinct from back-propagating action potentials. These events were orientation tuned and were suppressed by either hyperpolarization of membrane potential or intracellular blockade of NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptors. Both of these manipulations also decreased the selectivity of subthreshold orientation tuning measured at the soma, thus linking dendritic regenerative events to somatic orientation tuning. Together, our results suggest that dendritic spikes that are triggered by visual input contribute to a fundamental cortical computation: enhancing orientation selectivity in the visual cortex. Thus, dendritic excitability is an essential component of behaviourally relevant computations in neurons.
Project description:Thousands of dendritic spines on individual neurons process information and mediate plasticity by generating electrical input signals using a sophisticated assembly of transmitter receptors and voltage-sensitive ion channel molecules. Our understanding, however, of the electrical behaviour of spines is limited because it has not been possible to record input signals from these structures with adequate sensitivity and spatiotemporal resolution. Current interpretation of indirect data and speculations based on theoretical considerations are inconclusive. Here we use an electrochromic voltage-sensitive dye which acts as a transmembrane optical voltmeter with a linear scale to directly monitor electrical signals from individual spines on thin basal dendrites. The results show that synapses on these spines are not electrically isolated by the spine neck to a significant extent. Electrically, they behave as if they are located directly on dendrites.
Project description:The impact of a given neuronal pathway depends on the number of synapses it makes with its postsynaptic target, the strength of each individual synapse, and the integrative properties of the postsynaptic dendrites. Here we explore the cellular and synaptic mechanisms responsible for the differential excitatory drive from the entorhinal cortical pathway onto mouse CA2 compared with CA1 pyramidal neurons (PNs). Although both types of neurons receive direct input from entorhinal cortex onto their distal dendrites, these inputs produce a 5- to 6-fold larger EPSP at the soma of CA2 compared with CA1 PNs, which is sufficient to drive action potential output from CA2 but not CA1. Experimental and computational approaches reveal that dendritic propagation is more efficient in CA2 than CA1 as a result of differences in dendritic morphology and dendritic expression of the hyperpolarization-activated cation current (<i>I</i><sub>h</sub>). Furthermore, there are three times as many cortical inputs onto CA2 compared with CA1 PN distal dendrites. Using a computational model, we demonstrate that the differences in dendritic properties of CA2 compared with CA1 PNs are necessary to enable the CA2 PNs to generate their characteristically large EPSPs in response to their cortical inputs; in contrast, CA1 dendritic properties limit the size of the EPSPs they generate, even to a similar number of cortical inputs. Thus, the matching of dendritic integrative properties with the density of innervation is crucial for the differential processing of information from the direct cortical inputs by CA2 compared with CA1 PNs.<b>SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT</b> Recent discoveries have shown that the long-neglected hippocampal CA2 region has distinct synaptic properties and plays a prominent role in social memory and schizophrenia. This study addresses the puzzling finding that the direct entorhinal cortical inputs to hippocampus, which target the very distal pyramidal neuron dendrites, provide an unusually strong excitatory drive at the soma of CA2 pyramidal neurons, with EPSPs that are 5-6 times larger than those in CA1 pyramidal neurons. We here elucidate synaptic and dendritic mechanisms that account quantitatively for the marked difference in EPSP size. Our findings further demonstrate the general importance of fine-tuning the integrative properties of neuronal dendrites to their density of synaptic innervation.
Project description:Basal dendrites of neocortical pyramidal neurons are relatively short and directly attached to the cell body. This allows electrical signals arising in basal dendrites to strongly influence the neuronal output. Likewise, somatic action potentials (APs) should readily propagate back into the basilar dendritic tree to influence synaptic plasticity. Two recent studies, however, determined that sodium APs are severely attenuated in basal dendrites of cortical pyramidal cells, so that they completely fail in distal dendritic segments. Here we used the latest improvements in the voltage-sensitive dye imaging technique (Zhou et al., 2007) to study AP backpropagation in basal dendrites of layer 5 pyramidal neurons of the rat prefrontal cortex. With a signal-to-noise ratio of > 15 and minimal temporal averaging (only four sweeps) we were able to sample AP waveforms from the very last segments of individual dendritic branches (dendritic tips). We found that in short- (< 150 microm) and medium (150-200 microm in length)-range basal dendrites APs backpropagated with modest changes in AP half-width or AP rise-time. The lack of substantial changes in AP shape and dynamics of rise is inconsistent with the AP-failure model. The lack of substantial amplitude boosting of the third AP in the high-frequency burst also suggests that in short- and medium-range basal dendrites backpropagating APs were not severely attenuated. Our results show that the AP-failure concept does not apply in all basal dendrites of the rat prefrontal cortex. The majority of synaptic contacts in the basilar dendritic tree actually received significant AP-associated electrical and calcium transients.