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Neural modeling of intrinsic and spike-discharge properties of cochlear nucleus neurons.

  • Arle, J E
  • Kim, D O
Published Article
Biological cybernetics
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1991
PMID: 2025660


The purpose of this study was to develop neurobiologically plausible models to account for the response properties of several types of cochlear nucleus neurons. Three cell types--the bushy cells, stellate cells, and fusiform cells--were selected because useful data from intracellular recordings were available for these cell types, and because these three cell types exhibit distinct contrasts in their neuronal signal coding strategies. Stellate cells have primarily linear current-voltage (I-V) characteristics, but both bushy and fusiform cells have highly non-linear I-V characteristics. In light of this, we hypothesize that some of these cells have non-linear voltage-dependent conductances which alter their response properties. We modeled the bushy cell membrane conductance as an exponentially increasing function of membrane voltage, that of the fusiform cell as an exponentially decreasing function of the voltage, and that of the stellate cell as being voltage-independent. We have combined the voltage-dependent non-linear conductances of the cell membrane with a simple R-C circuit type of neuron model. These models reproduced the salient features of the experimentally observed I-V characteristics of the cells. In addition, we found that the models reproduced the spike discharge behavior to intracellularly injected current steps. Moreover, a more detailed study of stellate cell 'chopper'-type response patterns yielded hypotheses regarding the nature of the current that must exist at the soma during a pure-tone stimulus in order for the cells to exhibit various chopper subtype patterns, such as chop-S, chop-T, and Oc. The chop-S pattern requires a steady average current level with a relatively small variability during the tone-burst stimulus. The chop-T pattern, in contrast, requires that the current become more irregular during the tone-burst stimulus. The Oc pattern arises, however, when the input is similar to the chop-T case but the intrinsic properties of the cell model have been changed to increase the accommodation of the threshold. The implications of these findings for circuitry in the cochlear nucleus are discussed. Our analysis of these models revealed that this approach can be used to simulate neuronal cell types where I-V characteristics are known but more detailed ion channel data are not known.

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