Kinetic synaptic models applicable to building networks (Destexhe et al 1998)

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Simplified AMPA, NMDA, GABAA, and GABAB receptor models useful for building networks are described in a book chapter. One reference paper synthesizes a comprehensive general description of synaptic transmission with Markov kinetic models which is applicable to modeling ion channels, synaptic release, and all receptors. Also a simple introduction to this method is given in a seperate paper Destexhe et al Neural Comput 6:14-18 , 1994). More information and papers at and through email:
1 . Destexhe A, Mainen ZF, Sejnowski TJ (1994) Synthesis of models for excitable membranes, synaptic transmission and neuromodulation using a common kinetic formalism. J Comput Neurosci 1:195-230 [PubMed]
2 . Destexhe A, Mainen ZF, Sejnowski TJ (1998) Kinetic models of synaptic transmission Methods In Neuronal Modeling, Koch C:Segev I, ed. pp.1
3 . Destexhe A, Mainen Z, Sejnowski TJ (1994) An efficient method for computing synaptic conductances based on a kinetic model of receptor binding Neural Comput 6:14-18
Model Information (Click on a link to find other models with that property)
Model Type: Synapse;
Brain Region(s)/Organism:
Cell Type(s):
Gap Junctions:
Receptor(s): GabaA; GabaB; AMPA; NMDA; Glutamate; Gaba;
Transmitter(s): Gaba; Glutamate;
Simulation Environment: NEURON;
Model Concept(s): Ion Channel Kinetics; Simplified Models; Markov-type model;
Implementer(s): Destexhe, Alain [Destexhe at]; Mainen, Zach [Mainen at];
Search NeuronDB for information about:  GabaA; GabaB; AMPA; NMDA; Glutamate; Gaba; Gaba; Glutamate;

Simulations that illustrates the application of simple kinetic models for 
the most current types of receptors: AMPA and NMDA glutamatergic, GABA-A
and GABA-B gabaergic.  These simulations are related to the following
book chapter- generates figures similar to fig 1.4 p19:

   Alain Destexhe, Zachary F. Mainen and Terrence J. Sejnowski
   Kinetic models of synaptic transmission
   In: Methods in Neuronal Modeling , 2nd Edition, 
   Edited by Koch, C. and Segev, I., MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1998, pp. 1-25. 

   These papers are related:

   Destexhe, A., Mainen, Z.F. and Sejnowski, T.J.  An efficient method for
   computing synaptic conductances based on a kinetic model of receptor binding
   Neural Computation 6: 10-14, 1994.

   Destexhe, A., Mainen, Z.F. and Sejnowski, T.J. Synthesis of models for
   excitable membranes, synaptic transmission and neuromodulation using a 
   common kinetic formalism, Journal of Computational Neuroscience 1: 
   195-230, 1994.

   (see postscript files and

   Destexhe, A., Mainen, Z.F. and Sejnowski, T.J.  Fast kinetic models for
   simulating AMPA, NMDA, GABA(A) and GABA(B) receptors.  In: Computation and
   Neural Systems, Vol. 4, Kluwer Academic Press, in press, 1995.

   (see postscript file

The present directory contains all the files needed to run the simulations
using the Interviews version of NEURON.  These files are commented and should
run straighforwardly, provided the NEURON simulator is installed properly.

The kinetic synapse mechanism

This mechanisms has the following properties:

1. It is based on a simple kinetic scheme of binding of transmitter on
   postsynaptic receptors.  This description has the advantage that
   it is fully compatible with the level of description used for other
   mechanisms (Hodgkin-Huxley currents, calcium diffusion, etc).

2. The mechanism gives EPSP's or IPSP's from a pulse of transmitter.
   The waveform of these PSP's is very close to EPSP's or IPSP's measured
   experimentally, and the decay is monoexponential.  The user can set all
   the parameters corresponding to the rising phase, decay, amplitude, etc...
   (see .mod files)

3. Summation of consecutive PSP's is handled automatically by the 
   mechanism without need for an explicit event cue.  

4. Each synapse has a state variable corresponding to the fraction of 
   postsynaptic receptors in the open state.  However, the kinetics are
   first order, and so can be solved exactly.  This has the important
   advantage that it can be fit very easily to experimental recordings
   (see J. Computational Neurosci. paper).

5. Finally, this mechanism is very fast to compute. It does not require 
   solving any differential equations; at any given time only one exponential
   is calculated per synapse.  Thus, the mechanism is as fast to compute as 
   optimized versions of alpha function-based models.

How to run the simulation

This directory contains the files necessary to run a simulation of each
type of receptor mentioned above.  The parameters have been obtained
by fitting the model to whole-cell recordings of the various types of
synaptic response (see individual .oc and .mod files for details).

To compile the demo, NEURON and INTERVIEWS must be installed and working on
the machine you are using.  Just type "nrnivmodl" to compile the mechanisms
given in the mod files (glutamate.mod and gaba.mod are the mechanisms
for glutamate and gaba synapses, and HH.mod is the Hodgkin-Huxley kinetics). 

Then, execute one of the four example files by typing:

nrngui <ocfile>

where <ocfile> stands for either:

 	demo_ampa.oc	: AMPA/Kainate glutamatergic receptors
	demo_nmda.oc	: NMDA glutamatergic receptors
	demo_gabaa.oc	: GABA-A receptors
	demo_gabab.oc	: GABA-B receptors

Once the menu and graphics interface has appeared, click on "Init and Run"
button to start the simulation...

All these simulations were done using the NEURON simulator written by
Michael Hines, and which is available freely on internet via anonymous
ftp from  For more information about how
to get NEURON and how to install it, please refer to the following sites:

For further information, please contact:

Alain Destexhe
CNRS, UNIC (Bat-33), 
Avenue de la Terrasse,
91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, 


20071004 changed all synapse mod files so that they now use the
counter mechanism. -Destexhe.
20110411 changed solve method to cnexp in gabab.mod as per
"Integration methods for SOLVE statements" topic in the NEURON forum
-ModelDB Administrator
20110412 corrected solve method to derivimplicit in gabab.mod (for
systems with kinetics)

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