Neurons within the same network independently achieve conserved output by differentially balancing variable conductance magnitudes

J Neurosci. 2013 Jun 12;33(24):9950-6. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1095-13.2013.


Biological and theoretical evidence suggest that individual neurons may achieve similar outputs by differentially balancing variable underlying ionic conductances. Despite the substantial amount of data consistent with this idea, a direct biological demonstration that cells with conserved output, particularly within the same network, achieve these outputs via different solutions has been difficult to achieve. Here we demonstrate definitively that neurons from native neural networks with highly similar output achieve this conserved output by differentially tuning underlying conductance magnitudes. Multiple motor neurons of the crab (Cancer borealis) cardiac ganglion have highly conserved output within a preparation, despite showing a 2-4-fold range of conductance magnitudes. By blocking subsets of these currents, we demonstrate that the remaining conductances become unbalanced, causing disparate output as a result. Therefore, as strategies to understand neuronal excitability become increasingly sophisticated, it is important that such variability in excitability of neurons, even among those within the same individual, is taken into account.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena / physiology*
  • Brachyura
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Female
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / cytology
  • Male
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Statistics, Nonparametric