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Front. Comput. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fncom.2019.00033

A role for electrotonic coupling between cortical pyramidal cells

  • 1Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, United States
  • 2School of Mathematical Sciences, MOE-LSC, and Institute of Natural Sciences, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • 3Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, United States
  • 4School of Mathematical Sciences, MOE-LSC, and Institute of Natural Sciences, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, United States
  • 5Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Many brain regions communicate information through synchronized network activity. Electrical coupling among the dendrites of interneurons in the cortex has been implicated in forming and sustaining such activity in the cortex. Evidence for the existence of electrical coupling among cortical pyramidal cells, however, has been largely absent. A recent experimental study measured properties of electrical connections between pyramidal cells in the cortex, deemed "electrotonic couplings." These junctions were seen to occur pair-wise, sparsely, and often coexist with electrically-coupled interneurons. Here, we construct a network model to investigate possible roles for these rare, electrotonically-coupled pyramidal-cell pairs. Through simulations, we show that electrical coupling among pyramidal-cell pairs significantly enhances coincidence-detection capabilities and increases network spike-timing precision. Further, a network containing multiple pairs possesses a rich coding structure, exhibiting large variability in its firing pattern.

Keywords: electrotonic coupling, synchrony, Pyramidal cells (PC), Information Processing, Coincidence Detection

Received: 12 Mar 2019; Accepted: 03 May 2019.

Edited by:

Yu-Guo Yu, Fudan University, China

Reviewed by:

Mainak J. Patel, College of William & Mary, United States
Victor J. Barranca, Swarthmore College, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Crodelle, Zhou, Kovacic and Cai. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Dr. Jennifer Crodelle, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, New York City, United States, crodelle@cims.nyu.edu
Dr. Douglas Zhou, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Mathematical Sciences, MOE-LSC, and Institute of Natural Sciences, Shanghai, 200240, Shanghai Municipality, China, zdz@cims.nyu.edu