Wide-band information transmission at the calyx of Held

Neural Comput. 2009 Apr;21(4):991-1017. doi: 10.1162/neco.2008.02-08-714.


We use a mathematical model of the calyx of Held to explore information transmission at this giant glutamatergic synapse. The significant depression of the postsynaptic response to repeated stimulation in vitro is a result of various activity-dependent processes in multiple timescales, which can be reproduced by multiexponential functions in this model. When the postsynaptic current is stimulated by Poisson-distributed spike trains, its amplitude varies considerably with the preceding interspike intervals. Here we quantify the information contained in the postsynaptic current amplitude about preceding interspike intervals and determine the impact of different pre- and postsynaptic factors on information transmission. The mutual information between presynaptic spike times and the amplitude of the postsynaptic response in general decreases as the mean stimulation rate increases, but remains high even at frequencies greater than 100 Hz, unlike at many neocortical synapses. The maintenance of information transmission is attributable largely to vesicle recycling rates at low frequencies of stimulation, shifting to vesicle release probability at high frequencies. Also, at higher frequencies, the synapse operates largely in a release-ready mode in which most release sites contain a release-ready vesicle and release probabilities are low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / cytology
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Glutamic Acid / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Pons / cytology
  • Pons / physiology*
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Glutamic Acid