Diversity amongst human cortical pyramidal neurons revealed via their sag currents and frequency preferences

Nat Commun. 2021 May 3;12(1):2497. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-22741-9.


In the human neocortex coherent interlaminar theta oscillations are driven by deep cortical layers, suggesting neurons in these layers exhibit distinct electrophysiological properties. To characterize this potential distinctiveness, we use in vitro whole-cell recordings from cortical layers 2 and 3 (L2&3), layer 3c (L3c) and layer 5 (L5) of the human cortex. Across all layers we observe notable heterogeneity, indicating human cortical pyramidal neurons are an electrophysiologically diverse population. L5 pyramidal cells are the most excitable of these neurons and exhibit the most prominent sag current (abolished by blockade of the hyperpolarization activated cation current, Ih). While subthreshold resonance is more common in L3c and L5, we rarely observe this resonance at frequencies greater than 2 Hz. However, the frequency dependent gain of L5 neurons reveals they are most adept at tracking both delta and theta frequency inputs, a unique feature that may indirectly be important for the generation of cortical theta oscillations.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Waves / physiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Young Adult