Action potential initiation and backpropagation in neurons of the mammalian CNS

Trends in Neurosciences
G StuartM Häusser


Most neurons in the mammalian CNS encode and transmit information via action potentials. Knowledge of where these electrical events are initiated and how they propagate within neurons is therefore fundamental to an understanding of neuronal function. While work from the 1950s suggested that action potentials are initiated in the axon, many subsequent investigations have suggested that action potentials can also be initiated in the dendrites. Recently, experiments using simultaneous patch-pipette recordings from different locations on the same neuron have been used to address this issue directly. These studies show that the site of action potential initiation is in the axon, even when synaptic activation is powerful enough to elicit dendritic electrogenesis. Furthermore, these and other studies also show that following initiation, action potentials actively backpropagate into the dendrites of many neuronal types, providing a retrograde signal of neuronal output to the dendritic tree.


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Related Concepts

Central Nervous System
Action Potentials
Transcription Initiation
Dendritic Tree
Nerve Impulses

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