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J Neurosci. 2001 Aug 1;21(15):5764-72.

Segregation and convergence of information flow through the cortico-subthalamic pathways.

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  • 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U114, Chaire de Neuropharmacologie, Collège de France, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France.


Cortico-basal ganglia circuits are organized in parallel channels. Information flow from functionally distinct cortical areas remains segregated within the striatum and through its direct projections to basal ganglia output structures. Whether such a segregation is maintained in trans-subthalamic circuits is still questioned. The effects of electrical stimulation of prefrontal, motor, and auditory cortex were analyzed in the subthalamic nucleus as well as in the striatum of anesthetized rats. In the striatum, cells (n = 300) presenting an excitatory response to stimulation of these cortical areas were located in distinct striatal territories, and none of the cells responded to two cortical stimulation sites. In the subthalamic nucleus, both prefrontal and motor cortex stimulations induced early and late excitatory responses as a result of activation of the direct cortico-subthalamic pathway and of the indirect cortico-striato-pallido-subthalamic pathway, respectively. Stimulation of the auditory cortex, which does not send direct projection to the subthalamic nucleus, induced only late excitatory responses. Among the subthalamic responding cells (n = 441), a few received both prefrontal and motor cortex (n = 19) or prefrontal and auditory cortex (n = 10) excitatory inputs, whereas a larger number of cells were activated from both motor and auditory cortices (n = 48). The data indicate that the segregation of cortical information flow originating from prefrontal, motor, and auditory cortices that occurred in the striatum is only partly maintained in the subthalamic nucleus. It can be proposed that the existence of specific patterns of convergence of information flow from these functionally distinct cortical areas in the subthalamic nucleus allows interactions between parallel channels.

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