Response properties and synchronization of rhythmically firing dendritic neurons

Joshua A. Goldberg*, Chris A. Deister, Charles J. Wilson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The responsiveness of rhythmically firing neurons to synaptic inputs is characterized by their phase-response curve (PRC), which relates how weak somatic perturbations affect the timing of the next action potential. The shape of the somatic PRC is an important determinant of collective network dynamics. Here we study theoretically and experimentally the impact of distally located synapses and dendritic nonlinearities on the synchronization properties of rhythmically firing neurons. By combining the theories of quasi-active cables and phase-coupled oscillators we derive an approximation for the dendritic responsiveness, captured by the neuron's dendritic PRC (dPRC). This closed-form expression indicates that the dPRCs are linearly filtered versions of the somatic PRC and that the filter characteristics are determined by the passive and active properties of the dendrite. The passive properties induce leftward shifts in the dPRCs and attenuate them. Our analysis yields a single dimensionless parameter that classifies active dendritic conductances as either regenerative conductances that counter the passive properties by boosting the dPRCs or restorative conductances that high-pass filter the dPRCs. Thus dendritic properties can generate a qualitative difference between the somatic and dendritic PRCs. As a result collective dynamics can be qualitatively different depending on the location of the synapse, the neuronal firing rates, and the dendritic nonlinearities. Finally, we use dual whole cell recordings from the soma and apical dendrite of cortical pyramidal neurons to test these predictions and find that empirical dPRCs are shifted leftward, as predicted, but may also display high-pass characteristics resulting from the restorative dendritic HCN (h) current.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)208-219
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Response properties and synchronization of rhythmically firing dendritic neurons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this