Role of spike-frequency adaptation in shaping neuronal response to dynamic stimuli

Biol Cybern. 2009 Jun;100(6):505-20. doi: 10.1007/s00422-009-0304-y. Epub 2009 Apr 21.


Spike-frequency adaptation is the reduction of a neuron's firing rate to a stimulus of constant intensity. In the locust, the Lobula Giant Movement Detector (LGMD) is a visual interneuron that exhibits rapid adaptation to both current injection and visual stimuli. Here, a reduced compartmental model of the LGMD is employed to explore adaptation's role in selectivity for stimuli whose intensity changes with time. We show that supralinearly increasing current injection stimuli are best at driving a high spike count in the response, while linearly increasing current injection stimuli (i.e., ramps) are best at attaining large firing rate changes in an adapting neuron. This result is extended with in vivo experiments showing that the LGMD's response to translating stimuli having a supralinear velocity profile is larger than the response to constant or linearly increasing velocity translation. Furthermore, we show that the LGMD's preference for approaching versus receding stimuli can partly be accounted for by adaptation. Finally, we show that the LGMD's adaptation mechanism appears well tuned to minimize sensitivity for the level of basal input.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Animals
  • Models, Neurological
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*