Enhanced Dendritic Compartmentalization in Human Cortical Neurons

Lou Beaulieu-Laroche, Enrique H.S. Toloza, Marie Sophie van der Goes, Mathieu Lafourcade, Derrick Barnagian, Ziv M. Williams, Emad N. Eskandar, Matthew P. Frosch, Sydney S. Cash, Mark T. Harnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


The biophysical features of neurons shape information processing in the brain. Cortical neurons are larger in humans than in other species, but it is unclear how their size affects synaptic integration. Here, we perform direct electrical recordings from human dendrites and report enhanced electrical compartmentalization in layer 5 pyramidal neurons. Compared to rat dendrites, distal human dendrites provide limited excitation to the soma, even in the presence of dendritic spikes. Human somas also exhibit less bursting due to reduced recruitment of dendritic electrogenesis. Finally, we find that decreased ion channel densities result in higher input resistance and underlie the lower coupling of human dendrites. We conclude that the increased length of human neurons alters their input-output properties, which will impact cortical computation. Video Abstract: Human cortical neurons exhibit a higher degree of voltage compartmentalization compared to rodent counterparts due to lower ion channel densities across larger dendritic surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)643-651.e14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 18 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • biophysics
  • compartmentalization
  • computation
  • cortex
  • dendrite
  • human
  • ion channels
  • neuron
  • patch-clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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