[Neuroscience] Re: Electrical Synapses..

Matthew Kirkcaldie m.kirkcaldie at removethis.unsw.edu.au
Mon Feb 27 06:27:31 EST 2006


In article <8cpnv11877uv17u7bj2118799sudpenhs4 at 4ax.com>,
 r norman <NotMyRealEmail at _comcast.net> wrote:

> However the neglect is probably well deserved.  They do exist in both
> vertebrates (including humans) and invertebrates and some very special
> connections do use electrical synapses, but they are basically very
> boring.  The chemical synapses do all the "heavy lifting" in nervous
> calculations, because they have the ability to be much more easily
> modulated by a variety of causes including prior activity.  So
> interesting things like learning and memory must really be due to
> chemical synapses, not electrical ones.

Not sure I'd concur on that front - there is an increasing body of 
evidence that suggests (a) inhibitory neurons in cortex are massively 
interconnected by electrical as well as chemical synapses, and (b) that 
this combination of electrical excitation and lagging chemical 
inhibition produces non-linear coupling, so that some types of activity 
and excitation get propagated through the network. It creates an 
environment in which particular frequencies of activity spread more 
easily than others, and I'm sure you would agree that has great 
possibilities for influencing the "interesting things"!  Especially when 
you consider that it seems that the favoured frequencies are in the 
magical "gamma band", much beloved of consciousness speculators.

There are some good reviews by Hestrin and Galaretta I think - also some 
of the work has come from Peter Somogyi's lab I think.

      Cheers, MK.


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