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Intrinsic biophysical diversity decorrelates neuronal firing while increasing information content.

Although examples of variation and diversity exist throughout the nervous system, their importance remains a source of debate. Even neurons of the same molecular type have notable intrinsic differences. Largely unknown, however, is the degree to which these differences impair or assist neural coding. We examined the outputs from a single type of neuron, the mitral cells of the mouse olfactory bulb, to identical stimuli and found that each cell's spiking response was dictated by its unique biophysical fingerprint. Using this intrinsic heterogeneity, diverse populations were able to code for twofold more information than their homogeneous counterparts. In addition, biophysical variability alone reduced pair-wise output spike correlations to low levels. Our results indicate that intrinsic neuronal diversity is important for neural coding and is not simply the result of biological imprecision.

Pubmed ID: 20802489


  • Padmanabhan K
  • Urban NN


Nature neuroscience

Publication Data

October 29, 2010

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC005798
  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC005798-08
  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC005798-09
  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC011184
  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01 DC011184-05
  • Agency: NIDCD NIH HHS, Id: R01DC0005798

Mesh Terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Entropy
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kv1.2 Potassium Channel
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net
  • Neurons
  • Olfactory Bulb
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Statistics as Topic