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Exp Brain Res. 1992;90(2):253-61.

Induction of high frequency activity in the somatosensory thalamus of rats in vivo results in long-term potentiation of responses in SI cortex.

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Center for Neural Science, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912.


Extracellular single-unit techniques were employed to record unitary activity simultaneously from the thalamic ventral posterior medial (VPM) nucleus and the ipsilateral primary somatosensory cortex of adult rats. Cross-correlation analysis triggered by the spontaneous firing of thalamocortical relay neurons in VPM and the discharge of layer IV neurons in the corresponding ipsilateral cortical barrel indicated that the paired-units included in this study were strongly correlated in their activity. The baseline responses of highly correlated cortical/thalamic pairs to a 10 ms deflection of a vibrissa on the contralateral side were measured using poststimulus time histograms. After establishing the baseline response, high frequency activity in VPM was induced in one of two ways: i) direct electrical stimulation of thalamic neurons or ii) whisker stimulation in the presence of bicuculline methiodide (BIC) released near the thalamic neurons. Both methods resulted in a conditioning stimulus (CS) paradigm consisting of "burst" of high-frequency activity (50-100 Hz) with an inter-burst interval of 150 ms (approximately 7 Hz). Almost immediately following the presentation of the CS, the response of layer IV cortical neurons to vibrissa stimulation increased by 37-62% over baseline values, which was maintained after the effects of BIC had worn off in VPM. This enhancement in the response of the cortical neurons was not accompanied by a concomitant increase in the thalamic responses. Thus, these results strongly suggest that the potentiation first occurred at the thalamocortical synapse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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