We studied the impact of transmitter release resistant to tetrodotoxin (TTX) in morphologically identified neocortical pyramidal neurons recorded intracellularly in barbiturate-anesthetized cats. It was observed that TTX- resistant release occurs in pyramidal neurons in vivo and at much higher frequencies than was previously reported in vitro. Further, in agreement with previous findings indicating that GABAergic and glutamatergic synapses are differentially distributed in the somata and dendrites of pyramidal cells, we found that most miniature synaptic potentials were sensitive to γ- aminobutyric acid-A (GABA(A)) or α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4- isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) antagonists in presumed somatic and dendritic impalements, respectively. Pharmacological blockage of spontaneous synaptic events produced large increases in input resistance that were more important in dendritic (≃50%) than somatic (≃10%) impalements. These findings imply that hi the intact brain, pyramidal neurons are submitted to an intense spike-independent synaptic bombardment that decreases the space constant of the cells. These results should be taken into account when extrapolating in vitro findings to intact brains.
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