A model neuron with activity-dependent conductances regulated by multiple calcium sensors

J Neurosci. 1998 Apr 1;18(7):2309-20. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.18-07-02309.1998.


Membrane channels are subject to a wide variety of regulatory mechanisms that can be affected by activity. We present a model of a stomatogastric ganglion (STG) neuron in which several Ca2+-dependent pathways are used to regulate the maximal conductances of membrane currents in an activity-dependent manner. Unlike previous models of this type, the regulation and modification of maximal conductances by electrical activity is unconstrained. The model has seven voltage-dependent membrane currents and uses three Ca2+ sensors acting on different time scales. Starting from random initial conditions over a given range, the model sets the maximal conductances for its active membrane currents to values that produce a predefined target pattern of activity approximately 90% of the time. In these models, the same pattern of electrical activity can be produced by a range of maximal conductances, and this range is compared with voltage-clamp data from the lateral pyloric neuron of the STG. If the electrical activity of the model neuron is perturbed, the maximal conductances adjust to restore the original pattern of activity. When the perturbation is removed, the activity pattern is again restored after a transient adjustment period, but the conductances may not return to their initial values. The model suggests that neurons may regulate their conductances to maintain fixed patterns of electrical activity, rather than fixed maximal conductances, and that the regulation process requires feedback systems capable of reacting to changes of electrical activity on a number of different time scales.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brachyura
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrophysiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Calcium