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J Neurophysiol. 2004 May;91(5):1990-8.

Synaptic interactions between thalamic and cortical inputs onto cortical neurons in vivo.

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Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Laval, Québec G1K 7P4, Canada.


To study the interactions between thalamic and cortical inputs onto neocortical neurons, we used paired-pulse stimulation (PPS) of thalamic and cortical inputs as well as PPS of two cortical or two thalamic inputs that converged, at different time intervals, onto intracellularly recorded cortical and thalamocortical neurons in anesthetized cats. PPS of homosynaptic cortico-cortical pathways produced facilitation, depression, or no significant effects in cortical pathways, whereas cortical responses to thalamocortical inputs were mostly facilitated at both short and long intervals. By contrast, heterosynaptic interactions between either cortical and thalamic, or thalamic and cortical, inputs generally produced decreases in the peak amplitudes and depolarization area of evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs), with maximal effect at approximately 10 ms and lasting from 60 to 100 ms. All neurons tested with thalamic followed by cortical stimuli showed a decrease in the apparent input resistance (R(in)), the time course of which paralleled that of decreased responses, suggesting that shunting is the factor accounting for EPSP's decrease. Only half of neurons tested with cortical followed by thalamic stimuli displayed changes in R(in). Spike shunting in the thalamus may account for those cases in which decreased synaptic responsiveness of cortical neurons was not associated with decreased R(in) because thalamocortical neurons showed decreased firing probability during cortical stimulation. These results suggest a short-lasting but strong shunting between thalamocortical and cortical inputs onto cortical neurons.

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