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Synaptic physiology

Human efficiency

In terms of cognitive ability, humans outperform other species, suggesting that our brains possess enhanced information processing capacity. Testa-Silva et al. here show that human synapses can indeed relay information with high efficiency. They recorded from pairs of pyramidal neurons in human and mouse cortical slices during the transfer of an action potential train and found that human neurons recovered much faster from use-dependent depression than mouse neurons. Using information theory, they showed that human synapses have a greater dynamic range of responses to changes in presynaptic activity and better temporal resolution than those of mice.


  1. Testa-Silva, G. et al. High bandwidth synaptic communication and frequency tracking in human neocortex. PLoS Biol. 12, e1002007 (2014)

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Whalley, K. Human efficiency. Nat Rev Neurosci 16, 2 (2015).

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