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Cortical and thalamic cellular correlates of electroencephalographic burst-suppression.

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Laboratoire de Neurophysiologie, Faculté de Médecine, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada.


This experimental study on anesthetized cats used intracellular recordings of cortical, thalamocortical and reticular thalamic neurons (n = 54), as well as multi-site extracellular recordings (n = 36), to investigate the cellular correlates of EEG burst-suppression patterns, defined as alternating wave bursts and periods of electrical silence. Burst-suppression was elicited by the administration of the same or other anesthetic agents upon the background of an already synchronized EEG activity. About 95% of cortical cells entered burst-suppression, in close time-relation with EEG activity, displaying sequences of phasic depolarizing events associated with bursts of EEG waves and an electrical silence of the neuronal membrane during flat EEG epochs. The membrane potential (Vm) hyperpolarized by approximately 10 mV prior to any EEG change and the slow rhythms reflecting deep stages of anesthesia progressively disorganized with transition to burst-suppression. During flat EEG epochs, the apparent input resistance (tested through short hyperpolarizing current pulses) decreased (range 12-60%) and neuronal responsiveness to orthodromic volleys (tested by thalamic and cortical evoked excitatory postsynaptic potentials) was dramatically reduced. It is proposed that the decreased input resistance is mainly due to an increase in K+ conductances. At variance with cortical neurons, only 60-70% of thalamic cells ceased firing before overt EEG burst-suppression and were completely silent during flat periods of EEG activity. The remaining 30-40% of thalamic cells discharged rhythmic (1-4 Hz) spike bursts during periods of EEG silence. This rhythm, within the frequency range of delta waves, is generated in thalamic cells by the interplay between two of their intrinsic currents at critical levels of Vm hyperpolarization. However, with the deepening of burst-suppression, when silent EEG periods became longer than 30 sec, thalamic cells also ceased firing. The assumption that full-blown burst-suppression is achieved through virtually complete disconnection in brain circuits implicated in the genesis of the EEG is corroborated by the revival of normal cellular and EEG activities after volleys setting into action thalamic and cortical networks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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