Axonal properties determine somatic firing in a model of in vitro CA1 hippocampal sharp wave/ripples and persistent gamma oscillations


  • R.D. Traub
  • D. Schmitz
  • N. Maier
  • M.A. Whittington
  • A. Draguhn


  • European Journal of Neuroscience


  • Eur J Neurosci 36 (5): 2650-2660


  • Evidence has been presented that CA1 pyramidal cells, during spontaneous in vitro sharp wave/ripple (SPW-R) complexes, generate somatic action potentials that originate in axons. 'Participating' (somatically firing) pyramidal cells fire (almost always) at most once during a particular SPW-R whereas non-participating cells virtually never fire during an SPW-R. Somatic spikelets were small or absent, while ripple-frequency EPSCs and IPSCs occurred during the SPW-R in pyramidal neurons. These experimental findings could be replicated with a network model in which electrical coupling was present between small pyramidal cell axonal branches. Here, we explore this model in more depth. Factors that influence somatic participation include: (i) the diameter of axonal branches that contain coupling sites to other axons, because firing in larger branches injects more current into the main axon, increasing antidromic firing probability; (ii) axonal K(+) currents and (iii) somatic hyperpolarization and shunting. We predict that portions of axons fire at high frequency during SPW-R, while somata fire much less. In the model, somatic firing can occur by occasional generation of full action potentials in proximal axonal branches, which are excited by high-frequency spikelets. When the network contains phasic synaptic inhibition, at the axonal gap junction site, gamma oscillations result, again with more frequent axonal firing than somatic firing. Combining the models, so as to generate gamma followed by sharp waves, leads to strong overlap between the population of cells firing during gamma and the population of cells firing during a subsequent sharp wave, as observed in vivo.