Enhanced Dendritic Compartmentalization in Human Cortical Neurons

Cell. 2018 Oct 18;175(3):643-651.e14. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.045.


The biophysical features of neurons shape information processing in the brain. Cortical neurons are larger in humans than in other species, but it is unclear how their size affects synaptic integration. Here, we perform direct electrical recordings from human dendrites and report enhanced electrical compartmentalization in layer 5 pyramidal neurons. Compared to rat dendrites, distal human dendrites provide limited excitation to the soma, even in the presence of dendritic spikes. Human somas also exhibit less bursting due to reduced recruitment of dendritic electrogenesis. Finally, we find that decreased ion channel densities result in higher input resistance and underlie the lower coupling of human dendrites. We conclude that the increased length of human neurons alters their input-output properties, which will impact cortical computation. VIDEO ABSTRACT.

Keywords: biophysics; compartmentalization; computation; cortex; dendrite; human; ion channels; neuron; patch-clamp.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism
  • Male
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Species Specificity
  • Synaptic Potentials


  • Ion Channels