Journal of Computational Neuroscience

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 201–216 | Cite as

Roles of IA and morphology in action potential propagation in CA1 pyramidal cell dendrites

  • Corey D. AckerEmail author
  • John A. White


Dendrites of CA1 pyramidal cells of the hippocampus, along with those of a wide range of other cell types, support active backpropagation of axonal action potentials. Consistent with previous work, recent experiments demonstrating that properties of synaptic plasticity are different for distal synapses, suggest an important functional role of bAPs, which are known to be prone to failure in distal locations. Using conductance-based models of CA1 pyramidal cells, we show that underlying “traveling wave attractors” control action potential propagation in the apical dendrites. By computing these attractors, we dissect and quantify the effects of IA channels and dendritic morphology on bAP amplitudes. We find that non-uniform activation properties of IA can lead to backpropagation failure similar to that observed experimentally in these cells. Amplitude of forward propagation of dendritic spikes also depends strongly on the activation dynamics of IA. IA channel properties also influence transients at dendritic branch points and whether or not propagation failure results. The branching pattern in the distal apical dendrites, combined with IA channel properties in this region, ensure propagation failure in the apical tuft for a large range of IA conductance densities. At the same time, these same properties ensure failure of forward propagating dendritic spikes initiated in the distal tuft in the absence of some form of cooperativity of synaptic activation.


Backpropagation Propagation failure Traveling wave attractor bAP Dendritic spike 



The authors would like to thank: Georgi Medvedev (Drexel University) and Eugene Wayne (Boston University) for early, stimulating input; Bard Ermentrout (University of Pittsburgh) for technical help with XPPAUT; and Jonathan Bettencourt, Kyle Lillis, and Theoden Netoff (NDL, Boston University) for feedback and help editing the final manuscript.

Supplementary material

10827_2007_28_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (27 kb)
Supplement 1 Traveling Waves in XPPAUT, a Tutorial (PDF 27KB)
10827_2007_28_MOESM2_ESM.ode (3 kb)
Supplement 2 (ODE 3.12KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterFarmingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical EngineeringBoston UniversityBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for BioDynamics, and Center for Memory and BrainBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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