Tuberal supraoptic neurons-II. Electrotonic properties

W. E. Armstrong, B. N. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The electrotonic properties of tuberal supraoptic neurons were studied from conventional intracellular recordings made in the hypothalamo-neurohypophysial explant in vitro. The cable parameters electrotonic dendritic length, and the dendritic to somatic conductance ratio, were estimated using the slopes and intercepts of the first two peeled exponentials of the voltage transients generated by current steps. The estimations were made assuming an equivalent cylinder model consisting of a soma and an attached, lumped dendrite of finite length. An equalizing time constant was resolved in 12 of 17 neurons, allowing calculation of both cable parameters. In only one of these 12 was it necessary to assume a somatic shunt to account for the data. The average value of the dendritic electrotonic length was 1.02, and that of the dendritic to somatic conductance ratio, 4.11. In the remaining five neurons, an equalizing time constant could not be peeled and consequently the dendritic cable parameters could not be estimated. The average input resistance of these 12 neurons was 162 MΩ and the average membrane time constant was 11.86 ms. Principal Components Analysis revealed that the variance of input resistance and time constant was largely explained by one factor, while that of dendritic electrotonic length and the dendritic to somatic conductance ratio was explained by a separate, independent factor, suggesting a separation of electrical and morphological parameters, respectively. In addition, the variability of the data indicates that considerable differences in the morphology and specific membrane resistivity exist across supraoptic neurons. An analysis of spontaneously occurring postsynaptic potentials revealed that the shapes of these potentials could not be explained simply by assuming that they were determined by their passive decay from some point along the equivalent cable to the soma. In conclusion, dendrites make a significant and previously unappreciated contribution to the electrotonic behavior of supraoptic neurons. These electrotonic properties are similar to those of many other, morphologically diverse, central nervous system neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-494
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)


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