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ANNEE : 2011

Pre & postsynaptic tuning of action potential timing by spontaneous GABAergic activity.

AUTEURS : Caillard O.

Frequency and timing of action potential discharge are key elements for coding and transfer of information between neurons. The nature and location of the synaptic contacts, the biophysical parameters of the receptor-operated channels and their kinetics of activation are major determinants of the firing behaviour of each individual neuron. Ultimately the intrinsic excitability of each neuron determines the input-output function. Here we evaluate the influence of spontaneous GABAergic synaptic activity on the timing of action potentials in Layer 2/3 pyramidal neurones in acute brain slices from the somatosensory cortex of young rats. Somatic dynamic current injection to mimic synaptic input events was employed, together with a simple computational model that reproduce subthreshold membrane properties. Besides the well-documented control of neuronal excitability, spontaneous background GABAergic activity has a major detrimental effect on spike timing. In fact, GABA(A) receptors tune the relationship between the excitability and fidelity of pyramidal neurons via a postsynaptic (the reversal potential for GABA(A) activity) and a presynaptic (the frequency of spontaneous activity) mechanism. GABAergic activity can decrease or increase the excitability of pyramidal neurones, depending on the difference between the reversal potential for GABA(A) receptors and the threshold for action potential. In contrast, spike time jitter can only be increased proportionally to the difference between these two membrane potentials. Changes in excitability by background GABAergic activity can therefore only be associated with deterioration of the reliability of spike timing.