When recording the membrane potential, V, of a neuron it is desirable to be able to extract the synaptic input. Critically, the synaptic input is stochastic and non-reproducible so one is therefore often restricted to single trial data. Here, we introduce means of estimating the inhibition and excitation and their confidence limits from single sweep trials. The estimates are based on the mean membrane potential, (V) , and the membrane time constant,τ. The time constant provides the total conductance (G = capacitance/τ) and is extracted from the autocorrelation of V. The synaptic conductances can then be inferred from (V) when approximating the neuron as a single compartment. We further employ a stochastic model to establish limits of confidence. The method is verified on models and experimental data, where the synaptic input is manipulated pharmacologically or estimated by an alternative method. The method gives best results if the synaptic input is large compared to other conductances, the intrinsic conductances have little or no time dependence or are comparably small, the ligand gated kinetics is faster than the membrane time constant, and the majority of synaptic contacts are electrotonically close to soma (recording site). Though our data is in current-clamp, the method also works in V-clamp recordings, with some minor adaptations. All custom made procedures are provided in Matlab.
Journal of Neurophysiology, 2013, Vol 110, Issue 4, p. 1021-1034