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Neuroscience. 1999 Jan;88(2):365-76.

Analysis of spontaneous activity patterns of human thalamic ventrolateral neurons and their modifications due to functional brain changes.

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Laboratory of Human Cell Neurophysiology, Institute of Chemical Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow.


In the human thalamic ventralis lateralis nucleus the spontaneous activity of 235 single units during 38 stereotactic operations in locally anaesthetized parkinsonian patients was analysed. Two basic cell types (A and B) were shown to exist in this nucleus: (i) with unitary irregular (2-40/s) discharges characterized by a tendency to spike grouping in the range of 4-6 Hz and 10-30 Hz (A-type, 74%), (ii) with bursting discharges firing in short trains (5-30 ms) characterized by an unstable rhythmic 3-6 Hz pattern similar to a low-threshold Ca2+ intrinsic burst structure of discharges (B-type, 26%). The functional brain changes after a motor tests performance were accompanied by the appearance of two different transient modifications of activity of A-cells pattern into rhythmic burst discharges: (i) in the range of 3-6 Hz, similar to the bursts found for B-cells and recorded mainly in the anterior ventrolateral region in rigid patients, (ii) in the range of 5 +/- 1 Hz, characterized by other interspike interval and recorded in the posterior ventrolateral region in patients with tremor. Modifications during short-term anaesthesia resulted in 10-15 Hz burst discharges that were associated with gradual disappearance of A-cells activity. In contrast to what happens for A-cells, the activity of bursting B-units was characterized by an invariant intrinsic structure of discharges irrespective of the functional brain changes or the forms of parkinsonian pathology. The nature of A- and B-units as well as the mechanisms of transient modifications of their spontaneous activity patterns due to the functional brain changes are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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