Simultaneous induction of pathway-specific potentiation and depression in networks of cortical neurons

Biophys J. 1999 Feb;76(2):670-8. doi: 10.1016/S0006-3495(99)77234-6.


Activity-dependent modification of synaptic efficacy is widely recognized as a cellular basis of learning, memory, and developmental plasticity. Little is known, however, of the consequences of such modification on network activity. Using electrode arrays, we examined how a single, localized tetanic stimulus affects the firing of up to 72 neurons recorded simultaneously in cultured networks of cortical neurons, in response to activation through 64 different test stimulus pathways. The same tetanus produced potentiated transmission in some stimulus pathways and depressed transmission in others. Unexpectedly, responses were homogeneous: for any one stimulus pathway, neuronal responses were either all enhanced or all depressed. Cross-correlation of responses with the responses elicited through the tetanized site revealed that both enhanced and depressed responses followed a common principle: activity that was closely correlated before tetanus with spikes elicited through the tetanized pathway was enhanced, whereas activity outside a 40-ms time window of correlation to tetanic pathway spikes was depressed. Response homogeneity could result from pathway-specific recurrently excitatory circuits, whose gain is increased or decreased by the tetanus, according to its cross-correlation with the tetanized pathway response. The results show how spatial responses following localized tetanic stimuli, although complex, can be accounted for by a simple rule for activity-dependent modification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electric Stimulation / instrumentation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Tetany