The dynamic interactions between synaptic excitation and inhibition (E/I) shape membrane potential fluctuations and determine patterns of neuronal outputs; however, the spatiotemporal organization of these interactions within a single cell is poorly understood. Here, we investigated the relationship between local synaptic excitation and global inhibition in hippocampal pyramidal neurons using functional dendrite imaging in combination with whole-cell recordings of inhibitory postsynaptic currents. We found that the sums of spine inputs over dendritic trees were counterbalanced by a proportional amount of somatic inhibitory inputs. This online E/I correlation was maintained in dendritic segments that were longer than 50 μm. However, at the single spine level, only 22% of the active spines were activated with inhibitory inputs. This inhibition-coupled activity occurred mainly in the spines with large heads. These results shed light on a microscopic E/I-balancing mechanism that operates at selected synapses and that may increase the accuracy of neural information.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.