Electrical properties of neocortical neurons in slices from children with intractable epilepsy

Jeffrey G. Tasker, Neil W. Hoffman, Yang I. Kim, Robin S. Fisher, Warwick J. Peacock, F. Edward Dudek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


1. The intrinsic electrical properties of human neocortical neurons were studied with current-clamp and single-electrode voltage-clamp techniques in slices obtained from children, aged 3 mo to 15 yr, undergoing surgical treatment of intractable epilepsy. Neocortical samples were classified as most or least abnormal based on clinical data. Recorded neurons were labeled with biocytin for correlation of electrical properties with morphological characteristics and laminar position. All recorded neurons were divided into three cell types-fast-spiking, low-threshold spiking (LTS) and non-LTS cells- on the basis of their electrical characteristics. 2. Fast-spiking cells generated brief, rapidly repolarizing action potentials. Most of these cells showed only weak spike-frequency adaptation. Fast spiking cells labeled with biocytin were aspiny or sparsely spiny nonpyramidal neurons located in cortical layers 2-4. 3. LTS cells generated Ca2+-dependent low-threshold potentials and were the most numerous of the three cell types. Their Na+- dependent action potentials were broader than those of fast-spiking cells and showed marked spike-frequency adaptation. The size of low-threshold Ca2+ potentials and currents varied across cells, but they never supported more than two or, occasionally, three fast action potentials. LTS cells were pyramidal neurons located throughout cortical layers 2-6. Unlike the bursting neocortical cells described in lower mammals, LTS neurons in neocortex from children failed to generate bursts of inactivating Na+ action potentials. 4. Non-LTS cells also had relatively broad Na+-dependent action potentials and showed spike-frequency adaptation, but they did not generate detectable low- threshold potentials or currents. Non-LTS cells were also pyramidal neurons located throughout layers 2-6. 5. The electrical properties of cells from different age groups (≤1, 2-8, and 9-15 yr) and from most-abnormal and least-abnormal tissue samples were compared. A statistically significant trend toward a lower input resistance, a faster membrane time constant, and a decreased spike duration was observed with increasing age. There were no significant differences between the electrical properties of cells from the most-abnormal tissue and cells from the least-abnormal tissue. 6. These data indicate that the intrinsic electrical properties of neocortical neurons from children vary according to cell morphology and change with increasing age, as has been observed in rodent and feline neocortical neurons. No obvious evidence of epileptogenicity was detected in the intrinsic electrical properties of any of the neurons studied.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-939
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1996 Feb

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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