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Slow firing septal neurons modulate hippocampal and neocortical functions. Electrophysiologically, it is unclear whether slow firing neurons belong to a homogeneous neuronal population. To address this issue, whole-cell patch recordings and neuronal reconstructions were performed on rat brain slices containing the medial septum/diagonal band complex (MS/DB). Slow firing neurons were identified by their low firing rate at threshold (< 5Hz) and lack of time-dependent inward rectification (Ih). Unsupervised cluster analysis was used to investigate whether slow firing neurons could be further classified into different subtypes. The parameters used for the cluster analysis included latency for first spike, slow afterhyperpolarizing potential, maximal frequency and action potential (AP) decay slope. Neurons were grouped into three major subtypes. The majority of neurons (55%) were grouped as cluster I. Cluster II (17% of neurons) exhibited longer latency for generation of the first action potential (246.5±20.1 ms). Cluster III (28% of neurons) exhibited higher maximal firing frequency (25.3±1.7 Hz) when compared to cluster I (12.3±0.9 Hz) and cluster II (11.8±1.1 Hz) neurons. Additionally, cluster III neurons exhibited faster action potentials at suprathreshold. Interestingly, cluster II neurons were frequently located in the medial septum whereas neurons in cluster I and III appeared scattered throughout all MS/DB regions. Sholl’s analysis revealed a more complex dendritic arborization in cluster III neurons. Cluster I and II neurons exhibited characteristics of “true” slow firing neurons whereas cluster III neurons exhibited higher frequency firing patterns. Several neurons were labeled with a cholinergic marker, Cy3-conjugated 192 IgG (p75NTR), and cholinergic neurons were found to be distributed among the three clusters. Our findings indicate that slow firing medial septal neurons are heterogeneous and that soma location is an important determinant of their electrophysiological properties. Thus, slow firing neurons from different septal regions have distinct functional properties, most likely related to their diverse connectivity.


Copyright © 2007 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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