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J Neurophysiol. 2012 Jul;108(2):406-18. doi: 10.1152/jn.00642.2011. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

Intrinsic voltage dynamics govern the diversity of spontaneous firing profiles in basal forebrain noncholinergic neurons.

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Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey, USA.


Spontaneous firing and behavior-related changes in discharge profiles of basal forebrain (BF) neurons are well documented, albeit the mechanisms underlying the variety of activity modes and intermodal transitions remain elusive. With the use of cell-attached recordings, this study identifies a range of spiking patterns in diagonal band Broca (DBB) noncholinergic cells of rats and tentatively categorizes them into low-rate random, tonic, and cluster firing activities. It demonstrates further that the multiplicity of discharge profiles is sustained intrinsically and persists after blockade of glutamate-, glycine/GABA-, and cholinergic synaptic inputs. Stimulation of muscarinic receptors, blockade of voltage-gated Ca(2+)-, and small conductance (SK) Ca(2+)-activated K(+) currents as well as chelating of intracellular Ca(2+) concentration accelerate low-rate random and tonic firing and favor transition of neurons into cluster firing mode. A similar trend towards higher discharge rates with switch of neurons into cluster firing has been revealed by activation of neuropeptide Y (NPY) receptors with the NPY or NPY(1) receptor agonist [Leu(31),Pro(34)]-NPY. Whole cell current-clamp analysis demonstrates that the variety of spiking modes and intermodal transitions could be induced within the same neuronal population by injection of bias depolarizing or hyperpolarizing currents. Taken together, these data demonstrate the intrinsic and highly variable character of regenerative firing in BF noncholinergic cells, subject to powerful modulation by classical neurotransmitters, NPY, and small membrane currents.

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