Article abstract

Nature Neuroscience 10, 1467 - 1473 (2007)
Published online: 30 September 2007 | doi:10.1038/nn1982

Sodium pumps adapt spike bursting to stimulus statistics

Sara Arganda1,2,4, Raúl Guantes1,3,4 & Gonzalo G de Polavieja1,2

Pump activity is a homeostatic mechanism that maintains ionic gradients. Here we examined whether the slow reduction in excitability induced by sodium-pump activity that has been seen in many neuronal types is also involved in neuronal coding. We took intracellular recordings from a spike-bursting sensory neuron in the leech Hirudo medicinalis in response to naturalistic tactile stimuli with different statistical distributions. We show that regulation of excitability by sodium pumps is necessary for the neuron to make different responses depending on the statistical context of the stimuli. In particular, sodium-pump activity allowed spike-burst sizes and rates to code not for stimulus values per se, but for their ratio with the standard deviation of the stimulus distribution. Modeling further showed that sodium pumps can be a general mechanism of adaptation to statistics on the time scale of 1 min. These results implicate the ubiquitous pump activity in the adaptation of neural codes to statistics.

  1. Neural Processing Laboratory, Instituto 'Nicolás Cabrera' de Física de Materiales, Facultad de Ciencias, C-XVI.
  2. Department of Theoretical Physics, Facultad de Ciencias, C-XI.
  3. Department of Condensed Matter Physics, Facultad de Ciencias, C-III, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid 28049, Spain.
  4. These authors contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to: Gonzalo G de Polavieja1,2 e-mail:


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