- Quantum stochasticity and neuronal computations (2009)
- Presented at: Quantum Mind Conference 2007, Salzburg, Austria, 17 July 2007 The nervous system probably cannot display macroscopic quantum (i.e. classically impossible) behaviours such as quantum entanglement, superposition or tunnelling (Koch and Hepp, Nature 440:611, 2006). However, in contrast to this quantum ‘mysticism’ there is an alternative way in which quantum events might influence the brain activity. The nervous system is a nonlinear system with many feedback loops at every level of its structural hierarchy. A conventional wisdom is that in macroscopic objects the quantum fluctuations are self-averaging and thus not important. Nevertheless this intuition might be misleading in the case of nonlinear complex systems. Because of a high sensitivity to initial conditions, in chaotic systems the microscopic fluctuations may be amplified upward and thereby affect the system’s output. In this way stochastic quantum dynamics might sometimes alter the outcome of neuronal computations, not by generating classically impossible solutions, but by influencing the selection of many possible solutions (Satinover, Quantum Brain, Wiley & Sons, 2001). I am going to discuss recent theoretical proposals and experimental findings in quantum mechanics, complexity theory and computational neuroscience suggesting that biological evolution is able to take advantage of quantum-computational speed-up. I predict that the future research on quantum complex systems will provide us with novel interesting insights that might be relevant also for neurobiology and neurophilosophy.
- Functional and structural properties of dentate granule cells with hilar basal dendrites in mouse entorhino-hippocampal slice cultures (2012)
- During postnatal development hippocampal dentate granule cells (GCs) often extend dendrites from the basal pole of their cell bodies into the hilar region. These so-called hilar basal dendrites (hBD) usually regress with maturation. However, hBDs may persist in a subset of mature GCs under certain conditions (both physiological and pathological). The functional role of these hBD-GCs remains not well understood. Here, we have studied hBD-GCs in mature (≥18 days in vitro) mouse entorhino-hippocampal slice cultures under control conditions and have compared their basic functional properties (basic intrinsic and synaptic properties) and structural properties (dendritic arborisation and spine densities) to those of neighboring GCs without hBDs in the same set of cultures. Except for the presence of hBDs, we did not detect major differences between the two GC populations. Furthermore, paired recordings of neighboring GCs with and without hBDs did not reveal evidence for a heavy aberrant GC-to-GC connectivity. Taken together, our data suggest that in control cultures the presence of hBDs on GCs is neither sufficient to predict alterations in the basic functional and structural properties of these GCs nor indicative of a heavy GC-to-GC connectivity between neighboring GCs.
- Entorhinal denervation induces homeostatic synaptic scaling of excitatory postsynapses of dentate granule cells in mouse organotypic slice cultures (2012)
- Denervation-induced changes in excitatory synaptic strength were studied following entorhinal deafferentation of hippocampal granule cells in mature (≥3 weeks old) mouse organotypic entorhino-hippocampal slice cultures. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings revealed an increase in excitatory synaptic strength in response to denervation during the first week after denervation. By the end of the second week synaptic strength had returned to baseline. Because these adaptations occurred in response to the loss of excitatory afferents, they appeared to be in line with a homeostatic adjustment of excitatory synaptic strength. To test whether denervation-induced changes in synaptic strength exploit similar mechanisms as homeostatic synaptic scaling following pharmacological activity blockade, we treated denervated cultures at 2 days post lesion for 2 days with tetrodotoxin. In these cultures, the effects of denervation and activity blockade were not additive, suggesting that similar mechanisms are involved. Finally, we investigated whether entorhinal denervation, which removes afferents from the distal dendrites of granule cells while leaving the associational afferents to the proximal dendrites of granule cells intact, results in a global or a local up-scaling of granule cell synapses. By using computational modeling and local electrical stimulations in Strontium (Sr2+)-containing bath solution, we found evidence for a lamina-specific increase in excitatory synaptic strength in the denervated outer molecular layer at 3–4 days post lesion. Taken together, our data show that entorhinal denervation results in homeostatic functional changes of excitatory postsynapses of denervated dentate granule cells in vitro.
- Denervation-induced dendritic reorganization leads to changes in the electrotonic architecture of model dentate granule cells (2013)
- Poster presentation: Twenty Second Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2013. Paris, France. 13-18 July 2013. Neuronal death and subsequent denervation of target areas is a major feature of several neurological conditions such as brain trauma, ischemia or neurodegeneration. The denervation-induced axonal loss results in reorganization of the dendritic tree of denervated neurons. Dendritic reorganization of denervated neurons has been previously studied using entorhinal cortex lesion (ECL). ECL leads to shortening and loss of dendritic segments in the denervated outer molecular layer of the dentate gyrus . However, the functional importance of these long-term dendritic alterations is not yet understood and their impact on neuronal electrical properties remains unclear. Therefore, in this study we analyzed what happens to the electrotonic structure and excitability of dentate granule cells after denervation-induced alterations of their dendritic morphology, assuming all other parameters remain equal. To perform comparative electrotonic analysis we used computer simulations in anatomically and biophysically realistic compartmental models of 3D-reconstructed healthy and denervated granule cells. Our results show that somatofugal and somatopetal voltage attenuation due to passive cable properties was strongly reduced in denervated granule cells. In line with these predictions, the attenuation of simulated backpropagating action potentials and forward propagating EPSPs was significantly reduced in dendrites of denervated neurons. In addition, simulations of somatic and dendritic frequency-current (f-I) curves revealed increased excitability in deafferentated granule cells. Taken together, our results indicate that unless counterbalanced by a compensatory adjustment of passive and/or active membrane properties, the plastic remodeling of dendrites following lesion of entorhinal cortex inputs to granule cells will boost their electrotonic compactness and excitability.