[Comp-neuro] New Paper: Neuronal Firing Sensitivity to Morphologic and Active Membrane Parameters, PLoS Comput Biol. (2008)

Weaver, Christina Christina.Weaver at mssm.edu
Thu Jan 24 01:58:05 CET 2008

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to call your attention to our recent publication, highlighted in my presentation at CNS*07:

Weaver, C.M. and Wearne, S.L.  Neuronal Firing Sensitivity to Morphologic and Active Membrane Parameters.  PLoS Comput Biol. 2008 Jan 18;4(1):e11


Both the excitability of a neuron's membrane, driven by active ion channels, and dendritic morphology contribute to neuronal firing dynamics, but the relative importance and interactions between these features remain poorly understood. Recent modeling studies have shown that different combinations of active conductances can evoke similar firing patterns, but have neglected how morphology might contribute to homeostasis. Parameterizing the morphology of a cylindrical dendrite, we introduce a novel application of mathematical sensitivity analysis that quantifies how dendritic length, diameter, and surface area influence neuronal firing, and compares these effects directly against those of active parameters. The method was applied to a model of neurons from goldfish Area II. These neurons exhibit, and likely contribute to, persistent activity in eye velocity storage, a simple model of working memory. We introduce sensitivity landscapes, defined by local sensitivity analyses of 
firing rate and gain to each parameter, performed globally across the parameter space. Principal directions over which sensitivity to all parameters varied most revealed intrinsic currents that most controlled model output. We found domains where different groups of parameters had the highest sensitivities, suggesting that interactions within each group shaped firing behaviors within each specific domain. Application of our method, and its characterization of which models were sensitive to general morphologic features, will lead to advances in understanding how realistic morphology participates in functional homeostasis. Significantly, we can predict which active conductances, and how many of them, will compensate for a given age- or development-related structural change, or will offset a morphologic perturbation resulting from trauma or neurodegenerative disorder, to restore normal function. Our method can be adapted to analyze any computational model. Thus, sensitivity land
scapes, and the quantitative predictions they provide, can give new insight into mechanisms of homeostasis in any biological system.



Best regards,

Christina Weaver

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