Dendrites are far more active than we ever thought!

Moore, Ravassard, Ho and colleagues in the Mehta laboratory at UCLA have just published a paper in the journal Science where they used a ground-breaking new technology to record from intact dendrites in vivo in behaving rats! This has never been done before. They showed that dendrites are far more active than previously suspected. Surprisingly, they found that these distal most dendrites generate ten times as many spikes as the soma. These dendritic spikes from the parietal also contain information about the rat's behavior. In addition, the subthreshold membrane potential showed large fluctuations, bigger than the dendritic spike amplitude. Mayank Mehta stated that ""a fundamental belief in neuroscience has been that neurons are digital devices. They either generate a spike or not. These results show that the dendrites do not behave purely like a digital device. Dendrites do generate digital, all-or-none spikes, but they also show large analog fluctuations that are not all or none. This is a major departure from what neuroscientists have believed for about 60 years."