Modeling the electrophysiology of suprachiasmatic nucleus neurons

J Biol Rhythms. 2007 Oct;22(5):445-53. doi: 10.1177/0748730407306041.


Neurons in the SCN act as the central circadian (approximately 24-h) pacemaker in mammals. Using measurements of the ionic currents in SCN neurons, the authors fit a Hodgkin-Huxley-type model that accurately reproduces slow (approximately 28 Hz) neural firing as well as the contributions of ionic currents during an action potential. When inputs of other SCN neurons are considered, the model accurately predicts the fractal nature of firing rates and the appearance of random bursting. In agreement with experimental data, the molecular clock within these neurons modulates the firing rate through small changes in the concentration of internal calcium, calcium channels, or potassium channels. Predictions are made on how signals from other neurons can start, stop, speed up, or slow down firing. Only a slow sodium inactivation variable and voltage do not reach equilibrium during the interval between action potentials, and based on this finding, a reduced model is formulated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology*
  • Time Factors