One of the central goals of today’s neuroscience is to achieve the conceivably most accurate classification of neuron types in the mammalian brain. As part of this research effort, electrophysiologists commonly utilize current clamp techniques to gain a detailed characterization of the neurons’ physiological properties. While this approach has been useful, it is not well understood whether neurons that share physiological properties of a particular phenotype would also operate consistently under the action of natural synaptic inputs. We approached this problem by simulating a biophysically diverse population of model neurons based on 3 generic phenotypes. We exposed the model neurons to two types of stimulation to investigate their voltage responses under conventional current step protocols and under simulated synaptic bombardment. We extracted standard physiological parameters from the voltage responses elicited by current step stimulation and spike arrival times descriptive of the model’s firing behavior under synaptic inputs. The biophysical phenotypes could be reliably identified using classification based on the ‘static’ physiological properties, but not the interspike interval-based parameters. However, the model neurons associated with the biophysically different phenotypes retained cell type specific features in the fine structure of their spike responses that allowed their accurate classification.
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