Journal of Computational Neuroscience

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 49–69 | Cite as

Sodium Dynamics Underlying Burst Firing and Putative Mechanisms for the Regulation of the Firing Pattern in Midbrain Dopamine Neurons: A Computational Approach

  • C.C. Canavier


A physiologically based multicompartmental computational model of a midbrain dopamine (DA) neuron, calibrated using data from the literature, was developed and used to test the hypothesis that sodium dynamics drive the generation of a slow oscillation postulated to underlie NMDA-evoked bursting activity in a slice preparation. The full compartmental model was reduced to three compartments and ultimately to two variables, while retaining the biophysical interpretation of all parameters. A phase-plane analysis then suggested two mechanisms for the regulation of the firing pattern: (1) bursting activity is favored by manipulations that enhance the region of negative slope in the whole-cell IV curve and inhibited by those manipulations, such as increasing linear currents, that tend to dampen this region and (2) assuming a region of negative slope is present in the IV curve, the bias of the system can be altered, either enabling or disabling bursting. The model provides a coherent framework for interpreting the effects of glutamate, aspartate, NMDA, and GABA agonists and antagonists under current-clamp conditions, as well as the effects of NMDA and barium under voltage-clamp conditions.

neurouodulation VTA substantia nigra neural oscillator 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • C.C. Canavier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New OrleansNew Orleans

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