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TitleOptical Quantal Analysis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsMacDougall, Matthew J., and Alan Fine
JournalFront Synaptic Neurosci
Date Published2019

Understanding the mechanisms by which long-term synaptic plasticity is expressed remains an important objective in neuroscience. From a physiological perspective, the strength of a synapse can be considered a consequence of several parameters including the probability that a presynaptic action potential (AP) evokes the release of neurotransmitter, the mean number of quanta of transmitter released when release is evoked, and the mean amplitude of a postsynaptic response to a single quantum. Various methods have been employed to estimate these quantal parameters from electrophysiological recordings; such "quantal analysis" has been used to support competing accounts of mechanisms of expression of long-term plasticity. Because electrophysiological recordings, even with minimal presynaptic stimulation, can reflect responses arising at multiple synaptic sites, these methods are open to alternative interpretations. By combining intracellular electrical recording with optical detection of transmission at individual synapses, however, it is possible to eliminate such ambiguity. Here, we describe methods for such combined optical and electrical monitoring of synaptic transmission in brain slice preparations and illustrate how quantal analyses thereby obtained permit more definitive conclusions about the physiological changes that underlie long-term synaptic plasticity.

Alternate JournalFront Synaptic Neurosci
PubMed ID30971909
PubMed Central IDPMC6443884