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Theory Journal Club

Spontaneous Firing: A Survival Strategy in Neurons?

Author: Chaitanya Chintaluri, Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Title: Spontaneous Firing: A Survival Strategy in Neurons?
Abstract: Conventionally, neurons are cellular units that process synaptic inputs into synaptic spikes. However, it is well known that neurons can engage in spikes spontaneously and display a rich repertoire of firing properties seemingly lacking functional relevance e.g. in in vitro cortical slice preparations. In such in vitro preparations, it is perplexing that neurons initiate metabolically expensive action potentials instead of saving their energy during information downtime and functional irrelevance. In this talk, I will propose a hypothesis where intrinsic excitability in neurons may be a survival mechanism to minimize toxic byproducts of its energy metabolism. This type of toxicity can arise when mitochondrial ATP production stalls due to limited ADP and in neurons such conditions may occur during synaptic quiescence. Under such stalling conditions, electrons deviate from the electron transport chain to produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), disrupting many cellular processes and challenging cell survival. To preempt this, neurons may engage in ADP-producing metabolic spikes. I will explore the validity of this hypothesis using computational models that illustrate the implications of synaptic and metabolic spiking, especially in the context of neural avalanches, and in dopaminergic neurons and their degeneration in Parkinson's disease. I will conclude with some recent evidence in line with this hypothesis, and provide further predictions that can prove or falsify the validity of this theory.
Location: Besprechung, Muesmatt 102
Mon 10. June 2024 11:00 - 12:30