How could synapse number and position on a dendrite affect neuronal behavior with respect to the decoding of firing rate and temporal pattern? I developed a model of a neuron with a passive dendrite and found that dendritic length and the particular synapse positions directly determine the behavior of the neuron in response to patterns of received inputs. I revealed two distinct types of behavior by simply modifying the position and the number of synapses on the dendrite. In one setting – spatio-temporally sensitive – the neuron responds to a precise spatio-temporal pattern of spikes, but shows little change following an increase in the average frequency of the same input pattern. In the other setting – frequency sensitive – the neuron is insensitive to the precise arrival time of each spike but responds to changes in the average firing rate. This would allow neurons to detect different spatio-temporal patterns.