Single-voxel recording of voltage transients in dendritic spines

Biophys J. 2011 Jul 20;101(2):L11-3. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.06.021.


We report sensitive recording of membrane potential in single dendritic spines in cortical neurons within a brain slice using two-photon excitation and a new, fluorinated, intracellularly loaded organic dye, di-2-AN(F)EPPTEA. With a two-photon excitation wavelength of 1060 nm, we achieve voltage sensitivity of >16% change in fluorescence per 100 mV. By targeting single spines in single-voxel recordings, we attain excellent single/noise quality, with back-propagating action potentials (bAPs) visible in single sweeps while recording at 10 kHz. This recording rate allows us to reliably assess fast bAP dynamics on single sweeps including bAP rise times of 0.5 ms. The amplitude and propagation delays of the bAPs are similar among different spines located within the same dendritic region, and this is true despite large differences in spine size. The interregion differences in bAP waveforms in spines vary in relation to their distance from the soma and the caliber of their parent dendrites.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Coloring Agents / chemistry
  • Coloring Agents / metabolism
  • Dendritic Spines / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology


  • Coloring Agents