Spike initiation in central neurones

Matt Jones jonesmat at ohsu.edu
Fri Dec 11 12:49:23 EST 1998

In article <74pvvj$mc1$1 at pegasus.csx.cam.ac.uk> Koye,
aao20 at hermes.cam.ac.uk writes:
>Hi guys,
>Does anyone have information on current research (i.e 1yr old or less) that
>produced results that have thrown further light on the site of action
>potential initiation in mammalian central neurones? I am doing a critical
>review on a paper that discusses this topic and I need current information.
>Also, does anybody out there know how to go about structuring a critical
>Any information sent (to aao20 at cam.ac.uk) will be greatly appreciated.
>Thanks a lot,

Hi Koye,

Well, most importantly, don't listen to anything "kkollins" tells you
about "Rigorously-Topologically-Correlated extra-cellular space of
dendritic tree and soma". That's all meaningless bullshit, in my humble

But I did recently see a talk that is relevant to your question. 
Dan Johnston has been studying the distributions (i.e., local densities)
and kinetics of voltage-gated channels in hippocampal neurons for some
time. In his talk, he stated that there was no obvious region of very
high sodium channel density in the early segments of CA1 (I think) neuron
axons. In other words, there was no evidence for the classical "spike
initiation zone" in the axon hillock of these neurons. Presumably then,
the spike is generated in the soma itself. In general, this appears to be
the common observation (I mean, that spikes are _not_ initiated in the
dendrites, although they can be actively propagated there).  I don't know
if these recent Johnston studies are published yet.

A medline search for papers from the labs of Dan Johnston, Gregg Stuart,
Bert Sakmann, Peter Jonas, Clay Armstrong, Gordon Shepherd, and Wayne
Crill/Peter Schwindt should turn up quite a lot of relevant information.

As far as how to structure a critical review, there's no single answer.
It depends on who the intended audience is, their level of expertise and
prior knowledge, whether the topic is controversial, whether you're
reviewing a single paper or giving a broad overview of the field, whether
you yourself have a hypothesis that you're trying to support or attack,
whether it's important to give a historical perspective, etc. In some
cases, you just want to provide a very dense coverage of relevant
information, without wasting any words. In other cases, you want to lead
the reader by the hand, and get them to understand a particular point of
view. My personal strategy in writing is to use simple words whenever
possible, avoid using technical jargon unless I either define it very
clearly myself or have no doubt that the audience already knows exactly
what I'm talking about, and generally try to make it easy on the reader. 
A clear paper is more likely to be remembered and cited.


Matt Jones

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