Frequency-dependent synaptic depression and the balance of excitation and inhibition in the neocortex

Nat Neurosci. 1998 Nov;1(7):587-94. doi: 10.1038/2822.


The stability of cortical neuron activity in vivo suggests that the firing rates of both excitatory and inhibitory neurons are dynamically adjusted. Using dual recordings from excitatory pyramidal neurons and inhibitory fast-spiking neurons in neocortical slices, we report that sustained activation by trains of several hundred presynaptic spikes resulted in much stronger depression of synaptic currents at excitatory synapses than at inhibitory ones. The steady-state synaptic depression was frequency dependent and reflected presynaptic function. These results suggest that inhibitory terminals of fast-spiking cells are better equipped to support prolonged transmitter release at a high frequency compared with excitatory ones. This difference in frequency-dependent depression could produce a relative increase in the impact of inhibition during periods of high global activity and promote the stability of cortical circuits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Time Factors