Control of layer 5 pyramidal cell spiking by oscillatory inhibition in the distal apical dendrites: A computational modeling study

X. Li, K. Morita, H.P.C. Robinson, Michael Small

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The distal apical dendrites of layer 5 pyramidal neurons receive cortico-cortical and thalamocortical top-down and feedback inputs, as well as local recurrent inputs. A prominent source of recurrent inhibition in the neocortical circuit is somatostatin-positive Martinotti cells, which preferentially target distal apical dendrites of pyramidal cells. These electrically coupled cells can fire synchronously at various frequencies, including over a relatively slow range (5~30 Hz), thereby imposing oscillatory inhibition on the pyramidal apical tuft dendrites. We examined how such distal oscillatory inhibition influences the firing of a biophysically detailed layer 5 pyramidal neuron model, which reproduced the spatiotemporal properties of sodium, calcium, and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor spikes found experimentally. We found that oscillatory synchronization strongly influences the impact of distal inhibition on the pyramidal cell firing. Whereas asynchronous inhibition largely cancels out the facilitatory effects of distal excitatory inputs, inhibition oscillating synchronously at around 10~20 Hz allows distal excitation to drive axosomatic firing, as if distal inhibition were absent. Underlying this is a switch from relatively infrequent burst firing to single spike firing at every period of the inhibitory oscillation. This phenomenon depends on hyperpolarization-activated cation current-dependent membrane potential resonance in the dendrite, but also, in a novel manner, on a cooperative amplification of this resonance by N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor-driven dendritic action potentials. Our results point to a surprising dependence of the effect of recurrent inhibition by Martinotti cells on their oscillatory synchronization, which may control not only the local circuit activity, but also how it is transmitted to and decoded by downstream circuits. © 2013 the American Physiological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2739-2756
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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