NMDA/AMPA ratio impacts state transitions and entrainment to oscillations in a computational model of the nucleus accumbens medium spiny projection neuron

J Neurosci. 2005 Oct 5;25(40):9080-95. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2220-05.2005.


We describe a computational model of the principal cell in the nucleus accumbens (NAcb), the medium spiny projection (MSP) neuron. The model neuron, constructed in NEURON, includes all of the known ionic currents in these cells and receives synaptic input from simulated spike trains via NMDA, AMPA, and GABAA receptors. After tuning the model by adjusting maximal current conductances in each compartment, the model cell closely matched whole-cell recordings from an adult rat NAcb slice preparation. Synaptic inputs in the range of 1000-1300 Hz are required to maintain an "up" state in the model. Cell firing in the model required concurrent depolarization of several dendritic branches, which responded independently to afferent input. Depolarization from action potentials traveled to the tips of the dendritic branches and increased Ca2+ influx through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. As NMDA/AMPA current ratios were increased, the membrane showed an increase in hysteresis of "up" and "down" state dwell times, but intrinsic bistability was not observed. The number of oscillatory inputs required to entrain the model cell was determined to be approximately 20% of the "up" state inputs. Altering the NMDA/AMPA ratio had a profound effect on processing of afferent input, including the ability to entrain to oscillations in afferent input in the theta range (4-12 Hz). These results suggest that afferent information integration by the NAcb MSP cell may be compromised by pathology in which the NMDA current is altered or modulated, as has been proposed in both schizophrenia and addiction.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Dendrites
  • Electric Stimulation
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Models, Neurological*
  • N-Methylaspartate / metabolism*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Nucleus Accumbens / cytology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synapses
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid / metabolism*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • N-Methylaspartate
  • alpha-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic Acid
  • Calcium