Burst firing in sensory systems.
Neurons that fire high-frequency bursts of spikes are found in various sensory systems. Although the functional implications of burst firing might differ from system to system, bursts are often thought to represent a distinct mode of neuronal signalling. The firing of bursts in response to sensory input relies on intrinsic cellular mechanisms that work with feedback from higher centres to control the discharge properties of these cells. Recent work sheds light on the information that is conveyed by bursts about sensory stimuli, on the cellular mechanisms that underlie bursting, and on how feedback can control the firing mode of burst-capable neurons, depending on the behavioural context. These results provide strong evidence that bursts have a distinct function in sensory information transmission.