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Cereb Cortex. 2013 Jun;23(6):1299-316. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs103. Epub 2012 May 16.

Thalamic network oscillations synchronize ontogenetic columns in the newborn rat barrel cortex.

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Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.


Neocortical areas are organized in columns, which form the basic structural and functional modules of intracortical information processing. Using voltage-sensitive dye imaging and simultaneous multi-channel extracellular recordings in the barrel cortex of newborn rats in vivo, we found that spontaneously occurring and whisker stimulation-induced gamma bursts followed by longer lasting spindle bursts were topographically organized in functional cortical columns already at the day of birth. Gamma bursts synchronized a cortical network of 300-400 ┬Ám in diameter and were coherent with gamma activity recorded simultaneously in the thalamic ventral posterior medial (VPM) nucleus. Cortical gamma bursts could be elicited by focal electrical stimulation of the VPM. Whisker stimulation-induced spindle and gamma bursts and the majority of spontaneously occurring events were profoundly reduced by the local inactivation of the VPM, indicating that the thalamus is important to generate these activity patterns. Furthermore, inactivation of the barrel cortex with lidocaine reduced the gamma activity in the thalamus, suggesting that a cortico-thalamic feedback loop modulates this early thalamic network activity.


activity dependent; columnar organization; development; in vivo; newborn rat

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