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Exp Brain Res. 1997 Jul;115(3):403-9.

Subthreshold receptive fields and baseline excitability of "silent" S1 callosal neurons in awake rabbits: contributions of AMPA/kainate and NMDA receptors.

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Department of Psychology, The University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269, USA.


The contribution of NMDA and non-NMDA receptors to excitatory subthreshold receptive fields was examined in callosal efferent neurons (CC neurons) in primary somatosensory cortex of the fully awake rabbit. Only neurons showing no traditional (suprathreshold) receptive fields were examined. Subthreshold responses were examined by monitoring the thresholds of efferent neurons to juxtasomal current pulses (JSCPs) delivered through the recording microelectrode. Changes in threshold following a peripheral conditioning stimulus signify a subthreshold response. Using this method, excitatory postsynaptic potentials and inhibitory postsynaptic potentials are manifested as decreases and increases in JSCP threshold, respectively. NMDA and non-NMDA agonists and antagonists were administered iontophoretically via a multibarrel micropipette assembly attached to the recording/stimulating microelectrode. Receptor-selective doses of both AMPA/kainate and NMDA antagonists decreased the excitability of CC neurons in the absence of any peripheral stimulation. Threshold to JSCPs rose by a mean of 20% for both classes of antagonist. Despite the similar effects of NMDA and non-NMDA antagonists on baseline excitability, these antagonists had dramatically different effects on the subthreshold excitatory response to activation of the receptive field. Whereas receptor-selective doses of AMPA/kainate antagonists either eliminated or severely attenuated the subthreshold excitatory responses to peripheral stimulation, NMDA antagonists had little or no effect on the subthreshold evoked response.

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