Modeling somatic and dendritic spike mediated plasticity at the single neuron and network level

Nat Commun. 2017 Sep 26;8(1):706. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-00740-z.


Synaptic plasticity is thought to be the principal neuronal mechanism underlying learning. Models of plastic networks typically combine point neurons with spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) as the learning rule. However, a point neuron does not capture the local non-linear processing of synaptic inputs allowed for by dendrites. Furthermore, experimental evidence suggests that STDP is not the only learning rule available to neurons. By implementing biophysically realistic neuron models, we study how dendrites enable multiple synaptic plasticity mechanisms to coexist in a single cell. In these models, we compare the conditions for STDP and for synaptic strengthening by local dendritic spikes. We also explore how the connectivity between two cells is affected by these plasticity rules and by different synaptic distributions. Finally, we show that how memory retention during associative learning can be prolonged in networks of neurons by including dendrites.Synaptic plasticity is the neuronal mechanism underlying learning. Here the authors construct biophysical models of pyramidal neurons that reproduce observed plasticity gradients along the dendrite and show that dendritic spike dependent LTP which is predominant in distal sections can prolong memory retention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Association Learning
  • Dendrites / chemistry
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity*