Resonant or not, two amplification modes of proprioceptive inputs by persistent inward currents in spinal motoneurons

J Neurosci. 2007 Nov 21;27(47):12977-88. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3299-07.2007.


Why do motoneurons possess two persistent inward currents (PICs), a fast sodium current and a slow calcium current? To answer this question, we replaced the natural PICs with dynamic clamp-imposed artificial PICs at the soma of spinal motoneurons of anesthetized cats. We investigated how PICs with different kinetics (1-100 ms) amplify proprioceptive inputs. We showed that their action depends on the presence or absence of a resonance created by the I(h) current. In resonant motoneurons, a fast PIC enhances the resonance and amplifies the dynamic component of Ia inputs elicited by ramp-and-hold muscle stretches. This facilitates the recruitment of these motoneurons, which likely innervate fast contracting motor units developing large forces, e.g., to restore balance or produce ballistic movements. In nonresonant motoneurons, in contrast, a fast PIC easily triggers plateau potentials, which leads to a dramatic amplification of the static component of Ia inputs. This likely facilitates the recruitment of these motoneurons, innervating mostly slowly contracting and fatigue-resistant motor units, during postural activities. Finally, a slow PIC may switch a resonant motoneuron to nonresonant by counterbalancing I(h), thus changing the action of the fast PIC. A modeling study shows that I(h) needs to be located on the dendrites to create the resonance, and it predicts that dendritic PICs amplify synaptic input in the same manner as somatic PICs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Proprioception / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Sodium Channels / physiology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Sodium Channels