Subthreshold membrane conductances enhance directional selectivity in vertebrate sensory neurons

Maurice J. Chacron, Eric S. Fortune

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Directional selectivity, in which neurons respond preferentially to one "preferred" direction of movement over the opposite "null" direction, is a critical computation that is found in the central nervous systems of many animals. Such responses are generated using two mechanisms: spatiotemporal convergence via pathways that differ in the timing of information from different locations on the receptor array and the nonlinear integration of this information. Previous studies have showed that various mechanisms may act as nonlinear integrators by suppressing the response in the null direction. Here we show, through a combination of mathematical modeling and in vivo intracellular recordings, that subthreshold membrane conductances can act as a nonlinear integrator by increasing the response in the preferred direction of motion only, thereby enhancing the directional bias. Such subthreshold conductances are ubiquitous in the CNS and therefore may be used in a wide array of computations that involve the enhancement of an existing bias arising from differential spatiotemporal filtering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-462
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Subthreshold membrane conductances enhance directional selectivity in vertebrate sensory neurons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this