Parallel functional architectures within a single dendritic tree.
The input-output transformation of individual neurons is a key building block of neural circuit dynamics. While previous models of this transformation vary widely in their complexity, they all describe the underlying functional architecture as unitary, such that each synaptic input makes a single contribution to the neuronal response. Here, we show that the input-output transformation of CA1 pyramidal cells is instead best captured by two distinct functional architectures operating in parallel. We used statistically principled methods to fit flexible, yet interpretable, models of the transformation of input spikes into the somatic "output" voltage and to automatically select among alternative functional architectures. With dendritic Na+ channels blocked, responses are accurately captured by a single static and global nonlinearity. In contrast, dendritic Na+-dependent integration requires a functional architecture with multiple dynamic nonlinearities and clustered connectivity. These two architectures incorporate distinct morphological and biophysical properties of the neuron and its synaptic organization.