An Improved Test for Detecting Multiplicative Homeostatic Synaptic Scaling
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AbstractHomeostatic scaling of synaptic strengths is essential for maintenance of network "gain", but also poses a risk of losing the distinctions among relative synaptic weights, which are possibly cellular correlates of memory storage. Multiplicative scaling of all synapses has been proposed as a mechanism that would preserve the relative weights among them, because they would all be proportionately adjusted. It is crucial for this hypothesis that all synapses be affected identically, but whether or not this actually occurs is difficult to determine directly. Mathematical tests for multiplicative synaptic scaling are presently carried out on distributions of miniature synaptic current amplitudes, but the accuracy of the test procedure has not been fully validated. We now show that the existence of an amplitude threshold for empirical detection of miniature synaptic currents limits the use of the most common method for detecting multiplicative changes. Our new method circumvents the problem by discarding the potentially distorting subthreshold values after computational scaling. This new method should be useful in assessing the underlying neurophysiological nature of a homeostatic synaptic scaling transformation, and therefore in evaluating its functional significance.
CitationPLoS One. 2012 May 17; 7(5):e37364
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