Ion channel mechanisms underlying frequency-firing patterns of the avian nucleus magnocellularis: A computational model

Ting Lu, Kirstie Wade, Hui Hong, Jason Tait Sanchez*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We have previously shown that late-developing avian nucleus magnocellularis (NM) neurons (embryonic [E] days 19–21) fire action potentials (APs) that resembles a band-pass filter in response to sinusoidal current injections of varying frequencies. NM neurons located in the mid- to high-frequency regions of the nucleus fire preferentially at 75 Hz, but only fire a single onset AP to frequency inputs greater than 200 Hz. Surprisingly, NM neurons do not fire APs to sinusoidal inputs less than 20 Hz regardless of the strength of the current injection. In the present study we evaluated intrinsic mechanisms that prevent AP generation to low frequency inputs. We constructed a computational model to simulate the frequency-firing patterns of NM neurons based on experimental data at both room and near physiologic temperatures. The results from our model confirm that the interaction among low- and high-voltage activated potassium channels (KLVA and KHVA, respectively) and voltage dependent sodium channels (NaV) give rise to the frequency-firing patterns observed in vitro. In particular, we evaluated the regulatory role of KLVA during low frequency sinusoidal stimulation. The model shows that, in response to low frequency stimuli, activation of large KLVA current counterbalances the slow-depolarizing current injection, likely permitting NaV closed-state inactivation and preventing the generation of APs. When the KLVA current density was reduced, the model neuron fired multiple APs per sinusoidal cycle, indicating that KLVA channels regulate low frequency AP firing of NM neurons. This intrinsic property of NM neurons may assist in optimizing response to different rates of synaptic inputs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-458
Number of pages15
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2017


  • action potential
  • auditory brainstem
  • nucleus magnocellularis
  • voltage dependent potassium channel
  • voltage dependent sodium channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry


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