Functional clustering of dendritic activity during decision-making

Aaron Kerlin, Mohar Boaz, Daniel Flickinger, Bryan J. Maclennan, Matthew B. Dean, Courtney Davis, Nelson Spruston, Karel Svoboda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The active properties of dendrites can support local nonlinear operations, but previous imaging and electrophysiological measurements have produced conflicting views regarding the prevalence and selectivity of local nonlinearities in vivo. We imaged calcium signals in pyramidal cell dendrites in the motor cortex of mice performing a tactile decision task. A custom microscope allowed us to image the soma and up to 300 μm of contiguous dendrite at 15 Hz, while resolving individual spines. New analysis methods were used to estimate the frequency and spatial scales of activity in dendritic branches and spines. The majority of dendritic calcium transients were coincident with global events. However, task-associated calcium signals in dendrites and spines were compartmentalized by dendritic branching and clustered within branches over approximately 10 μm. Diverse behavior-related signals were intermingled and distributed throughout the dendritic arbor, potentially supporting a large learning capacity in individual neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere46966
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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