The Tripod neuron: A minimal structural reduction of the dendritic tree

Quaresima, A., Fitz, H., Duarte, R., Van den Broek, D., Hagoort, P., & Petersson, K. M. (2023). The Tripod neuron: A minimal structural reduction of the dendritic tree. The Journal of Physiology, 601(15), 3007-3437. doi:10.1113/JP283399.
Neuron models with explicit dendritic dynamics have shed light on mechanisms for coincidence detection, pathway selection and temporal filtering. However, it is still unclear which morphological and physiological features are required to capture these phenomena. In this work, we introduce the Tripod neuron model and propose a minimal structural reduction of the dendritic tree that is able to reproduce these computations. The Tripod is a three-compartment model consisting of two segregated passive dendrites and a somatic compartment modelled as an adaptive, exponential integrate-and-fire neuron. It incorporates dendritic geometry, membrane physiology and receptor dynamics as measured in human pyramidal cells. We characterize the response of the Tripod to glutamatergic and GABAergic inputs and identify parameters that support supra-linear integration, coincidence-detection and pathway-specific gating through shunting inhibition. Following NMDA spikes, the Tripod neuron generates plateau potentials whose duration depends on the dendritic length and the strength of synaptic input. When fitted with distal compartments, the Tripod encodes previous activity into a dendritic depolarized state. This dendritic memory allows the neuron to perform temporal binding, and we show that it solves transition and sequence detection tasks on which a single-compartment model fails. Thus, the Tripod can account for dendritic computations previously explained only with more detailed neuron models or neural networks. Due to its simplicity, the Tripod neuron can be used efficiently in simulations of larger cortical circuits.
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