Öjvind Bernander, Christof Koch, Rodney Douglas
Single nerve cells with static properties have traditionally been viewed as the building blocks for networks that show emergent phenomena. In contrast to this approach, we study here how the overall network activity can control single cell parameters such as input resistance, as well as time and space constants, parameters that are crucial for excitability and spatio(cid:173) temporal integration. Using detailed computer simulations of neocortical pyramidal cells, we show that the spontaneous background firing of the network provides a means for setting these parameters. The mechanism for this control is through the large conductance change of the membrane that is induced by both non-NMDA and NMDA excitatory and inhibitory synapses activated by the spontaneous background activity.