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Geisel School of Medicine


Excitatory synaptic transmission in many neurons is mediated by two coexpressed ionotropic glutamate receptor subtypes, AMPA and NMDA receptors, that differ in kinetics, ion selectivity, and voltage-sensitivity. AMPA receptors have fast kinetics and are voltage-insensitive, while NMDA receptors have slower kinetics and increased conductance at depolarized membrane potentials. Here, we report that the voltage dependency and kinetics of NMDA receptors act synergistically to stabilize synaptic integration of EPSPs across spatial and volt- age domains. Simulations of synaptic integration in simplified and morphologically realistic dendritic trees re- vealed that the combined presence of AMPA and NMDA conductances reduce the variability of somatic responses to spatiotemporal patterns of excitatory synaptic input presented at different initial membrane poten- tials and/or in different dendritic domains. This moderating effect of the NMDA conductance on synaptic integra- tion was robust across a wide range of AMPA-to-NMDA ratios, and results from synergistic interaction of NMDA kinetics (which reduces variability across membrane potential) and voltage dependence (which favors stabiliza- tion across dendritic location). When combined with AMPA conductance, the NMDA conductance compensates for voltage-dependent and impedance-dependent changes in synaptic driving force, and distance-dependent at- tenuation of synaptic potentials arriving at the axon, to increase the fidelity of synaptic integration and EPSP- spike coupling across both neuron state (i.e., initial membrane potential) and dendritic location of synaptic input. Thus, synaptic NMDA receptors convey advantages for synaptic integration that are independent of, but fully compatible with, their importance for coincidence detection and synaptic plasticity.



Original Citation

NMDA Receptors Enhance the Fidelity of Synaptic Integration Chenguang Li, Allan T. Gulledge eNeuro 19 January 2021, 8 (2) ENEURO.0396-20.2020; DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0396-20.2020