Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

This article is part of the supplement: Sixteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2007

Open Access Open Badges Poster presentation

Learning in spatially extended dendrites

Carl-Magnus Svensson1*, Stephen Coombes1 and Yulia Timofeeva2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Mathematical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK

2 Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2007, 8(Suppl 2):P200  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-8-S2-P200

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:6 July 2007

© 2007 Svensson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Poster presentation

Dendrites are not static structures, new synaptic connections are established and old ones disappear. Moreover, it is now known that plasticity can vary with distance from the soma [1]. Consequently it is of great interest to combine learning algorithms with spatially extended neuron models. In particular this may shed further light on the computational advantages of plastic dendrites, say for direction selectivity or coincidence detection. Direction selective neurons fire for one spatio-temporal input sequence on their dendritic tree but stay silent if the temporal order is reversed [2], whilst "coincidence-detectors" such as those in the auditory brainstem are known to make use of dendrites to detect temporal differences in sound arrival times between ears to an astounding accuracy [3]. Here we develop one such combination of learning and dendritic dynamics by extending the "Spike-Diffuse-Spike" [4] framework of an active dendritic tree to incorporate both artificial (tempotron style [5]) and biological learning rules (STDP style [2]).


  1. Froemke RC, Poo MM, Dan Y: Spike-timing-dependent synaptic plasticity depends on dendritic location.

    Nature 2005, 434(7030):221-225. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  2. Mo C-H, Gu M, Koch C: A learning rule for local synaptic synaptic interactions between excitation and shunting inhibition.

    Neural Computation 2004, 16:2507-2532. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  3. Agmon-Snir H, Carr CE, Rinzel J: The role of dendrites in auditory coincidence detection.

    Nature 1998, 393:268-272. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  4. Timofeeva Y, Lord GJ, Coombes S: Spatio-temporal filtering properties of a dendritic cable with active spines: a modeling study in the spike-diffuse-spike framework.

    J Comput Neurosci 2006, 21(3):293-306. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  5. Gutig R, Somplinsky H: The tempotron: a neuron that learns spike timing-based decisions.

    Nat Neurosci 2006, 9(3):420-428. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL