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Cereb Cortex. 2011 Jun;21(6):1362-78. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhq217. Epub 2010 Nov 2.

Primary motor cortex of the parkinsonian monkey: differential effects on the spontaneous activity of pyramidal tract-type neurons.

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Department of Neurobiology, Center for Neuroscience and Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Dysfunction of primary motor cortex (M1) is thought to contribute to the pathophysiology of parkinsonism. What specific aspects of M1 function are abnormal remains uncertain, however. Moreover, few models consider the possibility that distinct cortical neuron subtypes may be affected differently. Those questions were addressed by studying the resting activity of intratelencephalic-type corticostriatal neurons (CSNs) and distant-projecting lamina 5b pyramidal-tract type neurons (PTNs) in the macaque M1 before and after the induction of parkinsonism by administration of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). Contrary to previous reports, the general population of M1 neurons (i.e., PTNs, CSNs, and unidentified neurons) showed reduced baseline firing rates following MPTP, attributable largely to a marked decrease in PTN firing rates. CSN firing rates were unmodified. Although burstiness and firing patterns remained constant in M1 neurons as a whole and CSNs in particular, PTNs became more bursty post-MPTP and less likely to fire in a regular-spiking pattern. Rhythmic spiking (found in PTNs predominantly) occurred at beta frequencies (14-32 Hz) more frequently following MPTP. These results indicate that MPTP intoxication induced distinct modifications in the activity of different M1 neuronal subtypes. The particular susceptibility of PTNs suggests that PTN dysfunction may be an important contributor to the pathophysiology of parkinsonian motor signs.

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