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Nature. 1998 Jul 30;394(6692):475-8.

Membrane potential synchrony of simultaneously recorded striatal spiny neurons in vivo.

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Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, University of Tennessee College of Medicine, Memphis 38163, USA.


The basal ganglia are an interconnected set of subcortical regions whose established role in cognition and motor control remains poorly understood. An important nucleus within the basal ganglia, the striatum, receives cortical afferents that convey sensorimotor, limbic and cognitive information. The activity of medium-sized spiny neurons in the striatum seems to depend on convergent input within these information channels. To determine the degree of correlated input, both below and at threshold for the generation of action potentials, we recorded intracellularly from pairs of spiny neurons in vivo. Here we report that the transitions between depolarized and hyperpolarized states were highly correlated among neurons. Within individual depolarized states, some significant synchronous fluctuations in membrane potential occurred, but action potentials were not synchronized. Therefore, although the mean afferent signal across fibres is highly correlated among striatal neurons, the moment-to-moment variations around the mean, which determine the timing of action potentials, are not. We propose that the precisely timed, synchronous component of the membrane potential signals activation of cell assemblies and enables firing to occur. The asynchronous component, with low redundancy, determines the fine temporal pattern of spikes.

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