Extended dynamic clamp: controlling up to four neurons using a single desktop computer and interface

J Neurosci Methods. 2001 Jul 15;108(1):39-48. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0270(01)00368-5.


The dynamic clamp protocol allows an experimenter to simulate the presence of membrane conductances in, and synaptic connections between, biological neurons. Existing protocols and commercial ADC/DAC boards provide ready control in and between < or =2 neurons. Control at >2 sites is desirable when studying neural circuits with serial or ring connectivity. Here, we describe how to extend dynamic clamp control to four neurons and their associated synaptic interactions, using a single IBM-compatible PC, an ADC/DAC interface with two analog outputs, and an additional demultiplexing circuit. A specific C++ program, DYNCLAMP4, implements these procedures in a Windows environment, allowing one to change parameters while the dynamic clamp is running. Computational efficiency is increased by varying the duration of the input-output cycle. The program simulates < or =8 Hodgkin-Huxley-type conductances and < or =18 (chemical and/or electrical) synapses in < or =4 neurons and runs at a minimum update rate of 5 kHz on a 450 MHz CPU. (Increased speed is possible in a two-neuron version that does not need auxiliary circuitry). Using identified neurons of the crustacean stomatogastric ganglion, we illustrate on-line parameter modification and the construction of three-member synaptic rings.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Computer Systems
  • Crustacea / physiology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Microcomputers / standards
  • Microcomputers / trends
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • User-Computer Interface*