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Elife. 2014 Jan 1;3:e02148. doi: 10.7554/eLife.02148.

A frontal cortex event-related potential driven by the basal forebrain.

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Neural Circuits and Cognition Unit, Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Baltimore, United States.


Event-related potentials (ERPs) are widely used in both healthy and neuropsychiatric conditions as physiological indices of cognitive functions. Contrary to the common belief that cognitive ERPs are generated by local activity within the cerebral cortex, here we show that an attention-related ERP in the frontal cortex is correlated with, and likely generated by, subcortical inputs from the basal forebrain (BF). In rats performing an auditory oddball task, both the amplitude and timing of the frontal ERP were coupled with BF neuronal activity in single trials. The local field potentials (LFPs) associated with the frontal ERP, concentrated in deep cortical layers corresponding to the zone of BF input, were similarly coupled with BF activity and consistently triggered by BF electrical stimulation within 5-10 msec. These results highlight the important and previously unrecognized role of long-range subcortical inputs from the BF in the generation of cognitive ERPs. DOI:


attention; basal forebrain; event-related potential; frontal cortex; motivational salience

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