Contribution of the axon initial segment to action potentials recorded extracellularly

Maria Telenczuk, Romain Brette, Alain Destexhe and Bartosz Telenczuk

eNeuro 5: 0068-18, 2018.

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Abstract

Action potentials (APs) are electric phenomena that are recorded both intracellularly and extracellularly. APs are usually initiated in the short segment of the axon called the axon initial segment (AIS). It was recently proposed that at onset of an AP the soma and the AIS form a dipole. We study the extracellular signature (the extracellular action potential, EAP) generated by such a dipole. First, we demonstrate the formation of the dipole and its extracellular signature in detailed morphological models of a reconstructed pyramidal neuron. Then, we study the EAP waveform and its spatial dependence in models with axonal AP initiation and contrast it with the EAP obtained in models with somatic AP initiation. We show that in the models with axonal AP initiation the dipole forms between somatodendritic compartments and the AIS, and not between soma and dendrites as in the classical models. Soma-dendrites dipole is present only in models with somatic AP initiation. Our study has consequences for interpreting extracellular recordings of single-neuron activity and determining electrophysiological neuron types, but also for better understanding the origins of the high-frequency macroscopic extracellular potential recorded in the brain.
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