EPSP amplification and the precision of spike timing in hippocampal neurons

Neuron. 2000 Nov;28(2):559-69. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)00133-1.


The temporal precision with which EPSPs initiate action potentials in postsynaptic cells determines how activity spreads in neuronal networks. We found that small EPSPs evoked from just subthreshold potentials initiated firing with short latencies in most CA1 hippocampal inhibitory cells, while action potential timing in pyramidal cells was more variable due to plateau potentials that amplified and prolonged EPSPs. Action potential timing apparently depends on the balance of subthreshold intrinsic currents. In interneurons, outward currents dominate responses to somatically injected EPSP waveforms, while inward currents are larger than outward currents close to threshold in pyramidal cells. Suppressing outward potassium currents increases the variability in latency of synaptically induced firing in interneurons. These differences in precision of EPSP-spike coupling in inhibitory and pyramidal cells will enhance inhibitory control of the spread of excitation in the hippocampus.

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 Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Sodium
  • Potassium