Stochasticity in Ca2+ increase in spines enables robust and sensitive information coding

Takuya Koumura, Hidetoshi Urakubo, Kaoru Ohashi, Masashi Fujii, Shinya Kuroda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


A dendritic spine is a very small structure (∼0.1 mm3) of a neuron that processes input timing information. Why are spines so small? Here, we provide functional reasons; the size of spines is optimal for information coding. Spines code input timing information by the probability of Ca 2+ increases, which makes robust and sensitive information coding possible. We created a stochastic simulation model of input timing-dependent Ca2+ increases in a cerebellar Purkinje cell's spine. Spines used probability coding of Ca2+ increases rather than amplitude coding for input timing detection via stochastic facilitation by utilizing the small number of molecules in a spine volume, where information per volume appeared optimal. Probability coding of Ca2+ increases in a spine volume was more robust against input fluctuation and more sensitive to input numbers than amplitude coding of Ca2+ increases in a cell volume. Thus, stochasticity is a strategy by which neurons robustly and sensitively code information.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere99040
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16-06-2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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