Untangling dendrites with quantitative models

Science. 2000 Oct 27;290(5492):744-50. doi: 10.1126/science.290.5492.744.


Our understanding of the function of dendrites has been greatly enriched by an inspiring dialogue between theory and experiments. Rather than functionally ignoring dendrites, representing neurons as single summing points, we have realized that dendrites are electrically and chemically distributed nonlinear units and that this has important consequences for interpreting experimental data and for the role of neurons in information processing. Here, we examine the route to unraveling some of the enigmas of dendrites and highlight the main insights that have been gained. Future directions are discussed that will enable theory and models to keep shedding light on dendrites, where the most fundamental input-output adaptive processes take place.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Information Theory
  • Ion Channel Gating
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Learning
  • Mathematics
  • Mental Processes
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Ion Channels