The mechanisms of paired-pulse potentiation of the CA1 pyramidal cell population were examined by determining input-output relations for control and potentiated responses originating from the activation of radiatum fibers in the hippocampal slice preparation. Two types of potentiation for synchronously discharging pyramidal cells (population spike) were observed. In the first type, the potentiation of the population spike was found to be a combination of synaptic and extrasynaptic factors. This form of potentiation was observed in 16 of 28 slices. In the second type, the potentiation of the population spike was attributed entirely to the potentiation of summated dendritic depolarizations (population EPSP). This synaptic process of potentiation was observed in 12 of 28 slices. The involvement of only extrasynaptic mechanisms in the paired-pulse potentiation of the population spike was not observed. For the potentiation originating from a combination of synaptic and extrasynaptic mechanisms, 60% of the potentiation of the population spike was a result of synaptic factors and 40% could be attributed to extrasynaptic factors. These results support the concept that alterations in the excitability of postsynaptic neurons serve as a component of the mechanisms of paired-pulse potentiation in the radiatum fiber-CA1 pyramidal cell system.
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Abbreviations: EPSP-excitatory postsynaptic potential, I/D-input-output, r.u.-relative unit. ’ This work was supported by U.S. Public Health Service grants GM 01289 and NS 08470. Please send correspondence to Walter C. Low, Ph.D., Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Vermont, Given Medical Bldg., Burlington, VT 05405.