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A high adaptation index means the neuron spikes at the beginning of the stimulus, but then the spiking slows or stops altogether. These neurons therefore are likely transmit the initiation of an upstream input. Conversely, a neuron that does not accommodate (has a low adaptation index) gives a consistent output during the sustained input and might also be used to tell when a stimulus ends. The adaptation index likely involves ion channel proteins that change properties on the time scale of hundreds of milliseconds to seconds.

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