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J Neurophysiol. 1983 Oct;50(4):819-37.

An analysis of penicillin-induced generalized spike and wave discharges using simultaneous recordings of cortical and thalamic single neurons.


To study the relationship between cortical and thalamic single-neuron activity during spike and wave (SW) discharge of feline generalized penicillin epilepsy (FGPE), extracellular single-unit and local electroencephalogram (EEG) activity were recorded simultaneously from pairs of neurons, one located in the cortex of the middle suprasylvian gyrus (MSS), the other in the dorsal thalamic nuclei (n. lateralis posterior or pulvinar). These two areas are anatomically and functionally closely interrelated. Computer-generated EEG averages and histograms of single-unit activity triggered by either peaks of cortical or thalamic EEG transients or by cortical or thalamic action potentials (aps) showed that cortical neurons in the MSS fired at the time of the spike of the SW complex, while at the time of the wave they became silent. Two populations of thalamic neurons also fired maximally during the spike of SW discharge, but they differed in the precise timing of their firing in relation to that of the simultaneously recorded cortical neuron. The first group of thalamic neurons tended to fire 5-45 ms before the cortical neuron. Of these 28 neurons, 9 were antidromically and 2 orthodromically activated by cortical stimulation. The neurons of the second group tended to fire 0-45 ms after the cortical neuron. Cortical stimulation activated 15 of these 19 neurons orthodromically and 2 antidromically. A third and smaller population of thalamic neurons (n = 8) increased its firing probability during the wave of the SW complex and decreased it during the spike. In 74% of the pairs of neurons the cyclic alternation of excitation and "inhibition" associated with SW activity appeared in the cortex by 1-3 cycles earlier than in the thalamus. This was most common when the thalamic neuron of the pair reached its peak firing probability before the simultaneously recorded cortical neuron. In 11 pairs of neurons the same rhythmic alternation of excitation and "inhibition" of neuronal firing was seen in both the cortex and thalamus during SW discharges evoked by single-shock stimulation of nucleus centralis medialis. These data demonstrate that both cortical and thalamic neurons participate in the SW firing pattern of FGPE by undergoing periods of mutually phase-locked cyclic alternations of excitation and "inhibition" at the frequency of the EEG SW rhythm. Although the initial steps leading to generalized SW discharge in FGPE take place in the cortex, the thalamus soon becomes entrained in the SW rhythm.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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