Noise can enhance perception of tactile and proprioceptive stimuli by stochastic resonance processes. However, the mechanisms underlying this general phenomenon remain to be characterized. Here we studied how externally applied noise influences action potential firing in mouse primary sensory neurons of dorsal root ganglia, modelling a basic process in sensory perception. Since noisy mechanical stimuli may cause stochastic fluctuations in receptor potential, we examined the effects of sub-threshold depolarizing current steps with superimposed random fluctuations. We performed whole cell patch clamp recordings in cultured neurons of mouse dorsal root ganglia. Noise was added either before and during the step, or during the depolarizing step only, to focus onto the specific effects of external noise on action potential generation. In both cases, step + noise stimuli triggered significantly more action potentials than steps alone. The normalized power norm had a clear peak at intermediate noise levels, demonstrating that the phenomenon is driven by stochastic resonance. Spikes evoked in step + noise trials occur earlier and show faster rise time as compared to the occasional ones elicited by steps alone. These data suggest that external noise enhances, via stochastic resonance, the recruitment of transient voltage-gated Na channels, responsible for action potential firing in response to rapid step-wise depolarizing currents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)