The location of the axon initial segment affects the bandwidth of spike initiation dynamics

Christophe Verbist*, Michael G. Müller, Huibert D. Mansvelder, Robert Legenstein, Michele Giugliano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dynamics and the sharp onset of action potential (AP) generation have recently been the subject of intense experimental and theoretical investigations. According to the resistive coupling theory, an electrotonic interplay between the site of AP initiation in the axon and the somato-dendritic load determines the AP waveform. This phenomenon not only alters the shape of AP recorded at the soma, but also determines the dynamics of excitability across a variety of time scales. Supporting this statement, here we generalize a previous numerical study and extend it to the quantification of the input-output gain of the neuronal dynamical response. We consider three classes of multicompartmental mathematical models, ranging from ball-and-stick simplified descriptions of neuronal excitability to 3D-reconstructed biophysical models of excitatory neurons of rodent and human cortical tissue. For each model, we demonstrate that increasing the distance between the axonal site of AP initiation and the soma markedly increases the bandwidth of neuronal response properties. We finally consider the Liquid State Machine paradigm, exploring the impact of altering the site of AP initiation at the level of a neuronal population, and demonstrate that an optimal distance exists to boost the computational performance of the network in a simple classification task.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008087
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Ecology
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Modelling and Simulation


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