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Contribution of intrinsic and synaptic factors in the desynchronization of thalamic oscillatory activity

  • I. Timofeev (a1), M. Bazhenov (a2), T.J. Sejnowski (a2) (a3) and M. Steriade (a1)


The interplay between the intrinsic properties of thalamocortical (TC) neurons and synaptic potentials was investigated in vivo, in decorticated and intact-cortex cats, as well as in computational models to elucidate the possible mechanisms underlying the disruption of the spindle oscillation, a network phenomenon. We found that the low-threshold spikes (LTSs) in TC neurons were graded in their amplitude and latency to peak when elicited by current pulses or synaptic potentials from physiological levels of hyperpolarization. IPSPs could either delay or shunt the LTSs. Although the onset of spindles was rhythmic and did not include rebound LTSs, the end of spindles was highly aperiodic suggesting that desynchronization could contribute to the spindle termination. The desynchronization could have several sources, the main of which are (a) intrinsically generated rebound LTSs in TC neurons that occur with different delays and keep thalamic reticular (RE) neurons relatively depolarized, and/or (b) out-of-phase firing of cortical neurons due to intracortical processes that would result in depolarization of both TC and RE neurons. The present study suggests that an active cortical network participates in disrupting the spindle activities. We propose that the progression of spindles contains at least three different phases, with different origins: (a) the onset is generated by RE neurons that impose their activity onto TC neurons, without participation of cortical neurons; (b) the middle part is produced by the interplay between RE and TC neurons, with potentiation from the cortical network; and (c) the waning of spindles is due to the out-of-phase firing of TC and particularly cortical neurons that participate in the spindle termination.


Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-418-656-5166; fax: +1-418-656-7898. E-mail (I. Timofeev).
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Thalamus & Related Systems
  • ISSN: 1472-9288
  • EISSN: 1744-8107
  • URL: /core/journals/thalamus-and-related-systems
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