Functional maps within a single neuron | Brain Imaging and Neuroscience: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly |

The presence and plasticity of dendritic ion channels are well established. However, the literature is divided on what specific roles these dendritic ion channels play in neuronal information processing, and there is no consensus on why neuronal dendrites should express diverse ion channels with different expression profiles. In this review, we present a case for viewing dendritic information processing through the lens of the sensory map literature, where functional gradients within neurons are considered as maps on the neuronal topograph. Under such a framework, drawing analogies from the sensory map literature, we postulate that the formation of intraneuronal functional maps is driven by the twin objectives of efficiently encoding inputs that impinge along different dendritic locations and of retaining homeostasis in the face of changes that are required in the coding process. In arriving at this postulate, we relate intraneuronal map physiology to the vast literature on sensory maps and argue that such a metaphorical association provides a fresh conceptual framework for analyzing and understanding single-neuron information encoding. We also describe instances where the metaphor presents specific directions for research on intraneuronal maps, derived from analogous pursuits in the sensory map literature. We suggest that this perspective offers a thesis for why neurons should express and alter ion channels in their dendrites and provides a framework under which active dendrites could be related to neural coding, learning theory, and homeostasis. by Narayanan R & Johnston D, Journal of Neurophysioly, November 1, 2012 vol. 108 no. 9 2343-2351

Via Julien Hering, PhD