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Published 2000 | Published
Journal Article Open

Channel noise in excitable neuronal membranes


Stochastic fluctuations of voltage-gated ion channels generate current and voltage noise in neuronal membranes. This noise may be a critical determinant of the efficacy of information processing within neural systems. Using Monte-Carlo simulations, we carry out a systematic investigation of the relationship between channel kinetics and the resulting membrane voltage noise using a stochastic Markov version of the Mainen-Sejnowski model of dendritic excitability in cortical neurons. Our simulations show that kinetic parameters which lead to an increase in membrane excitability (increasing channel densities, decreasing temperature) also lead to an increase in the magnitude of the sub-threshold voltage noise. Noise also increases as the membrane is depolarized from rest towards threshold. This suggests that channel fluctuations may interfere with a neuron's ability to function as an integrator of its synaptic inputs and may limit the reliability and precision of neural information processing.

Additional Information

This work was funded by NSF, NIMH and the Sloan Center for Theoretical Neuroscience. We thank our collaborators Michael London, Idan Segev and Yosef Yarom for their invaluable suggestions.

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September 15, 2023
October 23, 2023