In vivo dendritic calcium dynamics in deep-layer cortical pyramidal neurons

Fritjof Helmchen, Karel Svoboda, Winfried Denk, David W. Tank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

313 Scopus citations


Dendritic Ca2+ action potentials in neocortical pyramidal neurons have been characterized in brain slices, but their presence and role in the intact neocortex remain unclear. Here we used two-photon microscopy to demonstrate Ca2+ electrogenesis in apical dendrites of deep-layer pyramidal neurons of rat barrel cortex in vivo. During whisker stimulation, complex spikes recorded intracellularly from distal dendrites and sharp waves in the electrocorticogram were accompanied by large dendritic [Ca2+] transients; these also occurred during bursts of action potentials recorded from somata of identified layer 5 neurons. The amplitude of the [Ca2+] transients was largest proximal to the main bifurcation, where sodium action potentials produced little Ca2+ influx. In some cases, synaptic stimulation evoked [Ca2+] transients without a concomitant action potential burst, suggesting variable coupling between dendrite and soma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-996
Number of pages8
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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