Properties of synaptic noise in tonically active human motoneurons

Warren J. D., Miles T. S., Türker K. S.

Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, vol.2, no.4, pp.189-202, 1992 (Scopus) identifier identifier identifier identifier


The objective of these experiments was to determine the amount of synaptic noise on the cell membrane at various intervals after an action potential in a motoneuron firing at a specified frequency. Sources of noise such as variations in the level of voluntary drive were minimized by selecting only segments of the spike train in which the unit was running within prescribed frequency limits. The level of the membrane potential of the motoneuron during these intervals was determined using two test "pulses" (compound Ia excitatory postsynaptic potentials) of known amplitude. This enabled the probability of the membrane potential falling within a voltage "window" of known size at known times after the preceding spike to be determined. The probability density histograms showed that the fluctuations of membrane potential about a target interspike trajectory (i.e., the membrane noise) increased with time after the preceding spike. These fluctuations in the membrane potential can be accounted for by a one-dimensional "random walk" model of membrane noise. This model explains the salient features of the interval histograms, such as positive skewness at low target frequencies. A quantitative test of the model demonstrated its applicability to the motor pools of tibialis and masseter. © 1993.