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J Neurophysiol. 2000 May;83(5):2649-60.

Electrophysiological properties of cholinergic and noncholinergic neurons in the ventral pallidal region of the nucleus basalis in rat brain slices.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane Qld 4072, Australia.


The ventral pallidum is a major source of output for ventral corticobasal ganglia circuits that function in translating motivationally relevant stimuli into adaptive behavioral responses. In this study, whole cell patch-clamp recordings were made from ventral pallidal neurons in brain slices from 6- to 18-day-old rats. Intracellular filling with biocytin was used to correlate the electrophysiological and morphological properties of cholinergic and noncholinergic neurons identified by choline acetyltransferase immunohistochemistry. Most cholinergic neurons had a large whole cell conductance and exhibited marked fast (i.e., anomalous) inward rectification. These cells typically did not fire spontaneously, had a hyperpolarized resting membrane potential, and also exhibited a prominent spike afterhyperpolarization (AHP) and strong spike accommodation. Noncholinergic neurons had a smaller whole cell conductance, and the majority of these cells exhibited marked time-dependent inward rectification that was due to an h-current. This current activated slowly over several hundred milliseconds at potentials more negative than -80 mV. Noncholinergic neurons fired tonically in regular or intermittent patterns, and two-thirds of the cells fired spontaneously. Depolarizing current injection in current clamp did not cause spike accommodation but markedly increased the firing frequency and in some cells also altered the pattern of firing. Spontaneous tetrodotoxin-sensitive GABA(A)-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) were frequently recorded in noncholinergic neurons. These results show that cholinergic pallidal neurons have similar properties to magnocellular cholinergic neurons in other parts of the forebrain, except that they exhibit strong spike accommodation. Noncholinergic ventral pallidal neurons have large h-currents that could have a physiological role in determining the rate or pattern of firing of these cells.

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