Reliability and precision of neural spike timing: Simulation of spectrally broadband synaptic inputs

A. Szucs, Á Vehovszky, G. Molnár, R. D. Pinto, H. D.I. Abarbanel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Spectrally broadband stimulation of neurons has been an effective method for studying their dynamic responses to simulated synaptic inputs. Previous studies with such stimulation were mostly based upon the direct intracellular injection of noisy current waveforms. In the present study we analyze and compare the firing output of various identified molluscan neurons to aperiodic, broadband current signals using three types of stimulus paradigms: 1. direct injection in current clamp mode, 2. conductance injection using electrotonic coupling of the input waveform to the neuron, and 3. conductance injection using a simulated chemical excitatory connection. The current waveforms were presented in 15 successive trials and the trial-to-trial variations of the spike responses were analyzed using peri-stimulus spike density functions. Comparing the responses of the neurons to the same type of input waveforms, we found that conductance injection resulted in more reliable and precise spike responses than direct current injection. The statistical parameters of the response spike trains depended on the spectral distribution of the input. The reliability increased with increasing cutoff frequency, while the temporal jitter of spikes changed in the opposite direction. Neurons with endogenous bursting displayed lower reproducibility in their responses to noisy waveforms when injected directly; however, they fired far more reliably and precisely when receiving the same waveforms as conductance inputs. The results show that molluscan neurons are capable of accurately reproducing their responses to synaptic inputs. Conductance injection provides an enhanced experimental technique for assessing the neurons' spike timing reliability and it should be preferred over direct current injection of noisy waveforms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1073
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 30 2004



  • AD
  • B4
  • B4cl
  • CPG
  • DA
  • Lymnaea neurons
  • PSDF
  • analog-to-digital
  • buccal 4
  • buccal four-cluster
  • central pattern generator
  • digital-to-analog
  • dynamic clamp
  • firing pattern
  • noisy stimulation
  • peri-stimulus density function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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