Plasticity in the intrinsic excitability of cortical pyramidal neurons

Nat Neurosci. 1999 Jun;2(6):515-20. doi: 10.1038/9165.


During learning and development, the level of synaptic input received by cortical neurons may change dramatically. Given a limited range of possible firing rates, how do neurons maintain responsiveness to both small and large synaptic inputs? We demonstrate that in response to changes in activity, cultured cortical pyramidal neurons regulate intrinsic excitability to promote stability in firing. Depriving pyramidal neurons of activity for two days increased sensitivity to current injection by selectively regulating voltage-dependent conductances. This suggests that one mechanism by which neurons maintain sensitivity to different levels of synaptic input is by altering the function relating current to firing rate.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ions
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats


  • Ions