Intracellular features predicted by extracellular recordings in the hippocampus in vivo

J Neurophysiol. 2000 Jul;84(1):390-400. doi: 10.1152/jn.2000.84.1.390.


Multichannel tetrode array recording in awake behaving animals provides a powerful method to record the activity of large numbers of neurons. The power of this method could be extended if further information concerning the intracellular state of the neurons could be extracted from the extracellularly recorded signals. Toward this end, we have simultaneously recorded intracellular and extracellular signals from hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells and interneurons in the anesthetized rat. We found that several intracellular parameters can be deduced from extracellular spike waveforms. The width of the intracellular action potential is defined precisely by distinct points on the extracellular spike. Amplitude changes of the intracellular action potential are reflected by changes in the amplitude of the initial negative phase of the extracellular spike, and these amplitude changes are dependent on the state of the network. In addition, intracellular recordings from dendrites with simultaneous extracellular recordings from the soma indicate that, on average, action potentials are initiated in the perisomatic region and propagate to the dendrites at 1.68 m/s. Finally we determined that a tetrode in hippocampal area CA1 theoretically should be able to record electrical signals from approximately 1, 000 neurons. Of these, 60-100 neurons should generate spikes of sufficient amplitude to be detectable from the noise and to allow for their separation using current spatial clustering methods. This theoretical maximum is in contrast to the approximately six units that are usually detected per tetrode. From this, we conclude that a large percentage of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells are silent in any given behavioral condition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Electrophysiology / methods*
  • Extracellular Space / physiology
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Microelectrodes
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sleep, REM / physiology
  • Stereotaxic Techniques