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Neuronal oscillations enhance stimulus discrimination by ensuring action potential precision

Schaefer, A.T.; Angelo, K.; Spors, H.; Margrie, T.W.; (2006) Neuronal oscillations enhance stimulus discrimination by ensuring action potential precision. PLoS Biology , 4 (6) , Article e163. 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040163. Green open access


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Although oscillations in membrane potential are a prominent feature of sensory, motor, and cognitive function, their precise role in signal processing remains elusive. Here we show, using a combination of in vivo, in vitro, and theoretical approaches, that both synaptically and intrinsically generated membrane potential oscillations dramatically improve action potential (AP) precision by removing the membrane potential variance associated with jitter-accumulating trains of APs. This increased AP precision occurred irrespective of cell type and—at oscillation frequencies ranging from 3 to 65 Hz—permitted accurate discernment of up to 1,000 different stimuli. At low oscillation frequencies, stimulus discrimination showed a clear phase dependence whereby inputs arriving during the trough and the early rising phase of an oscillation cycle were most robustly discriminated. Thus, by ensuring AP precision, membrane potential oscillations dramatically enhance the discriminatory capabilities of individual neurons and networks of cells and provide one attractive explanation for their abundance in neurophysiological systems.

Type: Article
Title: Neuronal oscillations enhance stimulus discrimination by ensuring action potential precision
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040163
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0040163
Language: English
Additional information: © 2006 Schaefer et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Medicine > Wolfson Inst for Biomedical Research
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/9674
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