What is it about?

This is a model showing how the excitability of the whole neuron is under control of ion channels expressed on the membrane. It is applied in a realistic way to principal neurons from the striatum, a subcortical brain area responsible for habit learning. The expression of ion channels changes the neural circuit properties, and various forms of pattern learning are possible even in then absence of synaptic plasticity.

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Why is it important?

There is generally an incomplete understanding of intrinsic excitability - or intrinsic plasticity - compared to synaptic plasticity. Sometimes it is assumed that IP is purely homeostatic, i.e. compensates for changes in SP. This paper shows that this is not the case, IP is a form of learning in itself.


LTP/LTD as the only basis of learning and memorization are clearly inadequate from the experimental point of view. Too many known sources of plasticity fall by the wayside. It is difficult to build comprehensive, but simple mathematical models of neural plasticity, which are capable of addressing real-life problems, i.e. which provide useful functionality. This paper is a step along the way.

Dr Gabriele Scheler
Carl Correns Foundation

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This page is a summary of: Learning intrinsic excitability in medium spiny neurons, F1000Research, March 2013, Faculty of 1000, Ltd.,
DOI: 10.12688/f1000research.2-88.v1.
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