Short-term dynamics of synaptic transmission within the excitatory neuronal network of rat layer 4 barrel cortex

The short-term plasticity of synaptic transmission between excitatory neurons within a barrel of layer 4 rat somatosensory neocortex was investigated. Action potentials in presynaptic neurons at frequencies ranging from 1 to 100 Hz evoked depressing postsynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs). Recovery from synaptic depression followed an exponential time course with best-fit parameters that differed greatly between individual synaptic connections. The average maximal short-term depression was close to 0.5 with a recovery time constant of around 500 ms. Analysis of each individual sweep showed that there was a correlation between the amplitude of the response to the first and second action potentials such that large first EPSPs were followed by smaller than average second EPSPs and vice versa. Short-term depression between excitatory layer 4 neurons can thus be termed use dependent. A simple model describing use-dependent short-term plasticity was able to closely simulate the experimentally observed dynamic behavior of these synapses for regular spike trains. More complex irregular trains of 10 action potentials occurring within 500 ms were initially well described, but during the train errors increased. Thus for short periods of time the dynamic behavior of these synapses can be predicted accurately. In conjunction with data describing the connectivity, this forms a first step toward computational modeling of the excitatory neuronal network of layer 4 barrel cortex. Simulation of whisking-evoked activity suggests that short-term depression may provide a mechanism for enhancing the detection of objects within the whisker space.

Published in:
J Neurophysiol, 87, 6, 2904-14
Department of Cell Physiology, Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg D-69120, Germany.

 Record created 2007-12-18, last modified 2018-03-17

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