An arithmetic rule for spatial summation of excitatory and inhibitory inputs in pyramidal neurons

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 22;106(51):21906-11. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0912022106. Epub 2009 Dec 2.


Dendritic integration of excitatory and inhibitory inputs is critical for neuronal computation, but the underlying rules remain to be elucidated. Based on realistic modeling and experiments in rat hippocampal slices, we derived a simple arithmetic rule for spatial summation of concurrent excitatory glutamatergic inputs (E) and inhibitory GABAergic inputs (I). The somatic response can be well approximated as the sum of the excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP), the inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP), and a nonlinear term proportional to their product (k*EPSP*IPSP), where the coefficient k reflects the strength of shunting effect. The k value shows a pronounced asymmetry in its dependence on E and I locations. For I on the dendritic trunk, k decays rapidly with E-I distance for proximal Es, but remains largely constant for distal Es, indicating a uniformly high shunting efficacy for all distal Es. For I on an oblique branch, the shunting effect is restricted mainly within the branch, with the same proximal/distal asymmetry. This asymmetry can be largely attributed to cable properties of the dendrite. Further modeling studies showed that this rule also applies to the integration of multiple coincident Es and Is. Thus, this arithmetic rule offers a simple analytical tool for studying E-I integration in pyramidal neurons that incorporates the location specificity of GABAergic shunting inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Neurons / physiology*