Exact solutions to cable equations in branching neurons with tapering dendrites

Yihe Lu, Yulia Timofeeva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Neurons are biological cells with uniquely complex dendritic morphologies that are not present in other cell types. Electrical signals in a neuron with branching dendrites can be studied by cable theory which provides a general mathematical modelling framework of spatio-temporal voltage dynamics. Typically such models need to be solved numerically unless the cell membrane is modelled either by passive or quasi-active dynamics, in which cases analytical solutions can be reduced to calculation of the Green’s function describing the fundamental input-output relationship in a given morphology. Such analytically tractable models often assume individual dendritic segments to be cylinders. However, it is known that dendritic segments in many types of neurons taper, i.e. their radii decline from proximal to distal ends. Here we consider a generalised form of cable theory which takes into account both branching and tapering structures of dendritic trees. We demonstrate that analytical solutions can be found in compact algebraic forms in an arbitrary branching neuron with a class of tapering dendrites studied earlier in the context of single neuronal cables by Poznanski (Bull. Math. Biol. 53(3):457–467, 1991). We apply this extended framework to a number of simplified neuronal models and contrast their output dynamics in the presence of tapering versus cylindrical segments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Mathematical Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Branching and tapering dendrites
  • Passive and quasi-active membranes
  • Green’s function in metric graphs
  • ; Sum-over-trips


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