Measurement and analysis of postsynaptic potentials using a novel voltage-deconvolution method

J Neurophysiol. 2008 Feb;99(2):1020-31. doi: 10.1152/jn.00942.2007. Epub 2007 Nov 28.


Accurate measurement of postsynaptic potential amplitudes is a central requirement for the quantification of synaptic strength, dynamics of short-term and long-term plasticity, and vesicle-release statistics. However, the intracellular voltage is a filtered version of the underlying synaptic signal and so a method of accounting for the distortion caused by overlapping postsynaptic potentials must be used. Here a voltage-deconvolution technique is demonstrated that defilters the entire voltage trace to reveal an underlying signal of well-separated synaptic events. These isolated events can be cropped out and reconvolved to yield a set of isolated postsynaptic potentials from which voltage amplitudes may be measured directly-greatly simplifying this common task. The method also has the significant advantage of providing a higher temporal resolution of the dynamics of the underlying synaptic signal. The versatility of the method is demonstrated by a variety of experimental examples, including excitatory and inhibitory connections to neurons with passive membranes and those with activated voltage-gated currents. The deconvolved current-clamp voltage has many features in common with voltage-clamp current measurements. These similarities are analyzed using cable theory and a multicompartment cell reconstruction, as well as direct comparison to voltage-clamp experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Neurons / radiation effects*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques / methods*
  • Rats
  • Somatosensory Cortex / cytology
  • Time Factors