The Neural Code between Neocortical Pyramidal Neurons Depends on Neurotransmitter Release Probability
Although signaling between neurons is central to the functioning of the brain, we still do not understand how the code used in signaling depends on the properties of synaptic transmission. Theoretical analysis combined with patch clamp recordings from pairs of neocortical pyramidal neurons revealed that the rate of synaptic depression, which depends on the probability of neurotransmitter release, dictates the extent to which firing rate and temporal coherence of action potentials within a presynaptic population are signaled to the postsynaptic neuron. The postsynaptic response primarily reflects rates of firing when depression is slow and temporal coherence when depression is fast. A wide range of rates of synaptic depression between different pairs of pyramidal neurons was found, suggesting that the relative contribution of rate and temporal signals varies along a continuum. We conclude that by setting the rate of synaptic depression, release probability is an important factor in determining the neural code.