Predicting complex spikes in striatal projection neurons of the direct pathway following neuromodulation by acetylcholine and dopamine

Eur J Neurosci. 2021 Apr;53(7):2117-2134. doi: 10.1111/ejn.14891. Epub 2020 Aug 1.


The input structure of the basal ganglia, striatum, receives dense neuromodulatory input in the form of dopamine and acetylcholine. The two systems are tightly connected, for example, synchronized activity of cholinergic interneurons, leading to increased acetylcholine release, has been shown to directly trigger dopamine release from dopaminergic terminals in striatum. Both signals are further needed for induction of locomotion. High dopamine concentration leads to increased excitability of the direct pathway striatal projection neurons. High cholinergic tone inhibits various potassium channels further increasing the excitability of striatal projection neurons. Here, we investigate the combined effect of concurrent high acetylcholine and dopamine using biophysically detailed models based on rodent data. The aim of the study is to investigate how neuromodulation affects dendritic integration. The result shows that neuromodulation paired with synaptic activation of dendrites can give rise to complex spiking patterns, resembling spike shapes seen in the hippocampus. In the hippocampus, these complex spikes are associated with behavioral time scale plasticity and place cell tuning. We further investigate the mechanisms behind the complex spikes and find that there are two components, one axo-somatic and one dendritic in origin.

Keywords: NMDA spikes; calcium concentration; dendritic integration; inhibition; sodium current.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine*
  • Basal Ganglia
  • Corpus Striatum
  • Dopamine*
  • Interneurons


  • Acetylcholine
  • Dopamine