Journal of Computational Neuroscience

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 389–403 | Cite as

Evidence for frequency-dependent extracellular impedance from the transfer function between extracellular and intracellular potentials

Intracellular-LFP transfer function
  • Claude Bédard
  • Serafim Rodrigues
  • Noah Roy
  • Diego Contreras
  • Alain DestexheEmail author


We examine the properties of the transfer function F T  = V m / V LFP between the intracellular membrane potential (V m ) and the local field potential (V LFP) in cerebral cortex. We first show theoretically that, in the subthreshold regime, the frequency dependence of the extracellular medium and that of the membrane potential have a clear incidence on F T . The calculation of F T from experiments and the matching with theoretical expressions is possible for desynchronized states where individual current sources can be considered as independent. Using a mean-field approximation, we obtain a method to estimate the impedance of the extracellular medium without injecting currents. We examine the transfer function for bipolar (differential) LFPs and compare to simultaneous recordings of V m and V LFP during desynchronized states in rat barrel cortex in vivo. The experimentally derived F T matches the one derived theoretically, only if one assumes that the impedance of the extracellular medium is frequency-dependent, and varies as \(1/\sqrt{\omega}\) (Warburg impedance) for frequencies between 3 and 500 Hz. This constitutes indirect evidence that the extracellular medium is non-resistive, which has many possible consequences for modeling LFPs.


Computational models Local field potentials EEG Extracellular resistivity Intracellular recordings Maxwell equations 



Research supported by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France), Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, France) and the Future and Emerging Technologies program (FET, European Union; FACETS project). Additional information is available at


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claude Bédard
    • 1
  • Serafim Rodrigues
    • 1
  • Noah Roy
    • 2
  • Diego Contreras
    • 2
  • Alain Destexhe
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Integrative and Computational Neuroscience Unit (UNIC), UPR2191CNRSGif-sur-YvetteFrance
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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