The underlying mechanisms that promote precise spiking in upper motor neurons controlling fine motor skills are not well understood. Here we report that projection neurons in the adult zebra finch song nucleus RA display robust high-frequency firing, ultra-narrow spike waveforms, superfast Na+ current inactivation kinetics, and large resurgent Na+ currents (INaR). These properties of songbird pallial motor neurons closely resemble those of specialized large pyramidal neurons in mammalian primary motor cortex. They emerge during the early phases of song development in males, but not females, coinciding with a complete switch of Na+ channel subunit expression from Navβ3 to Navβ4. Dynamic clamping and dialysis of Navβ4’s C-terminal peptide into juvenile RA neurons provide evidence that Navβ4, and its associated INaR, promote neuronal excitability. We thus propose that INaR modulates the excitability of upper motor neurons that are required for the execution of fine motor skills.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)