Voltage-dependent conductances in many spiking neurons are tuned to reduce action potential energy consumption, so improving the energy efficiency of spike coding. However, the contribution of voltage-dependent conductances to the energy efficiency of analogue coding, by graded potentials in dendrites and non-spiking neurons, remains unclear. We investigate the contribution of voltage-dependent conductances to the energy efficiency of analogue coding by modelling blowfly R1-6 photoreceptor membrane. Two voltage-dependent delayed rectifier K+ conductances (DRs) shape the membrane's voltage response and contribute to light adaptation. They make two types of energy saving. By reducing membrane resistance upon depolarization they convert the cheap, low bandwidth membrane needed in dim light to the expensive high bandwidth membrane needed in bright light. This investment of energy in bandwidth according to functional requirements can halve daily energy consumption. Second, DRs produce negative feedback that reduces membrane impedance and increases bandwidth. This negative feedback allows an active membrane with DRs to consume at least 30% less energy than a passive membrane with the same capacitance and bandwidth. Voltage-dependent conductances in other non-spiking neurons, and in dendrites, might be organized to make similar savings.
Electronic supplementary material is available online at https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3721834.
- Received November 22, 2016.
- Accepted March 8, 2017.
- © 2017 The Author(s)
Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.