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The synaptic connections delivering sensory information to neurons of the cerebral cortex provide a rich variety of messages.

Diverse Thalamocortical Short-Term Plasticity Elicited by Ongoing Stimulation

The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(2):515-526, 8 january 2014.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2441-13.2014

Marta Díaz-Quesada,Francisco J. Martini, Giovanni Ferrati, Ingrid Bureau and Miguel Maravall.

To produce sensation, neuronal pathways must transmit and process stimulus patterns that unfold over time. This behavior is determined by short-term synaptic plasticity (STP), which shapes the temporal filtering properties of synapses in a pathway. We explored STP variability across thalamocortical (TC) synapses, measuring whole-cell responses to stimulation of TC fibers in layer 4 neurons of mouse barrel cortex in vitro. As expected, STP during stimulation from rest was dominated by depression. However, STP during ongoing stimulation was strikingly diverse across TC connections. Diversity took the form of variable tuning to the latest interstimulus interval: some connections responded weakly to shorter intervals, while other connections were facilitated. These behaviors did not cluster into categories but formed a continuum. Diverse tuning did not require disynaptic inhibition. Hence, monosynaptic excitatory lemniscal TC connections onto layer 4 do not behave uniformly during ongoing stimulation. Each connection responds differentially to particular stimulation intervals, enriching the ability of the pathway to convey complex, temporally fluctuating information.

 

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