Do neocortical pyramidal neurons display stochastic resonance?

Michael Rudolph and Alain Destexhe

Journal of Computational Neuroscience 11: 19-42, 2001.

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Neocortical pyramidal neurons in vivo are subject to an intense synaptic background activity which has a significant impact on various electrophysiological properties and dendritic integration. Using detailed biophysical models of a morphologically-reconstructed neocortical pyramidal neuron, in which synaptic background activity was simulated according to recent measurements in cat parietal cortex in vivo, we show that the responsiveness of the cell to additional periodic subthreshold stimuli can be significantly enhanced through mechanisms similar to stochastic resonance. We compare several paradigms leading to stochastic resonance-like behavior, such as varying the strength or the correlation in the background activity. Interestingly, a new type of resonance-like behavior was obtained when the correlation was varied, in which case the responsiveness is sensitive to the statistics rather than the strength of the ``noise''. We suggest that this type of resonance may be relevant to information processing in the cerebral cortex.
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