Using steady-state cable analysis as derived by Rall, electrotonic properties of the dendritic trees of the tonic stretch receptor neurons of the spiny lobster. Panulirus interruptus, have been examined. By directly measuring the somatic input resistance and by visualizing the dendritic trees of this neuron by backfilling the axon with cobalt, the electrotonic properties of the dendritic trees have been derived. The Calculated membrane resistivity is 800-3600 omega-cm2. Voltage and current transfer functions were calculated for (a) single dendritic tips the size observed in the cobalt preparation and (b) for processes 2 micrometer or smaller, as observed in electron microscopy. Current transfer to the soma was high in both cases (greater than 80%). Voltage transfer was 22% for large and 4% for small dendrites. When a more natural simultaneous conductance change at the tips of all major dendrites was modeled, voltage transfer was 84% and current transfer 56%. But the dynamic range of the cell (rheobase to saturation) is well-predicted by varying the simultaneous inputs, not by scaling up a single input, thus illustrating that convenient indices of electrotonic properties may not prove useful in appreciating the integrative properties of a neuron.
PMID: 7346168, MUID: 82259233]