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Experimental evidence and modeling studies support a synchronizing role for electrical coupling in the cat thalamic reticular neurons in vivo.

Publication Type:

Journal Article

Source:

Eur J Neurosci, Volume 20, Issue 1, p.111-9 (2004)

Keywords:

Action Potentials, Anesthetics, Inhalation, Animals, Cats, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Gap Junctions, Halothane, Models, Animal, Models, Neurological, Neurons, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Synaptic Transmission, Thalamus, Time Factors

Abstract:

<p>Thalamic reticular (RE) neurons are crucially implicated in brain rhythms. Here, we report that RE neurons of adult cats, recorded and stained intracellularly in vivo, displayed spontaneously occurring spikelets, which are characteristic of central neurons that are coupled electrotonically via gap junctions. Spikelets occurred spontaneously during spindles, an oscillation in which RE neurons play a leading role, as well as during interspindle lulls. They were significantly different from excitatory postsynaptic potentials and also distinct from fast prepotentials that are presumably dendritic spikes generated synaptically. Spikelets were strongly reduced by halothane, a blocker of gap junctions. Multi-site extracellular recordings performed before, during and after administration of halothane demonstrated a role for electrical coupling in the synchronization of spindling activity within the RE nucleus. Finally, computational models of RE neurons predicted that gap junctions between these neurons could mediate the spread of low-frequency activity at great distances. These experimental and modeling data suggest that electrotonic coupling within the RE nucleus plays an important role in the generation and synchronization of low-frequency (spindling) activities in the thalamus.</p>

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