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One of the functions of the excitatory subthalamic nucleus (STN) is to relay cortical activity to other basal ganglia structures. The response of the STN to cortical input is shaped by inhibition from the reciprocally connected globus pallidus (GP). To examine the activity in the STN-GP network in relation to cortical activity, we recorded single and multiple unit activity in STN and/or GP together with cortical electroencephalogram in anesthetized rats during various states of cortical activation. During cortical slow-wave activity (SWA), STN and GP neurons fired bursts of action potentials at frequencies that were similar to those of coincident slow ( approximately 1 Hz) and spindle (7-14 Hz) cortical oscillations. Spontaneous or sensory-driven global activation was associated with a reduction of SWA and a shift in STN-GP activity from burst- to tonic- or irregular-firing. Rhythmic activity in STN and GP neurons was lost when the cortex was inactivated by spreading depression and did not resume until SWA had recovered. Although rhythmic STN-GP activity was correlated with SWA, the phase relationships of activities of neurons within the STN and GP and between the nuclei were variable. Even when neurons displayed synchronous bursting activity, correlations on the millisecond time scale, which might indicate shared synaptic input, were not observed. These data indicate that (1) STN and GP activity is intimately related to cortical activity and hence the sleep-wake cycle; (2) rhythmic oscillatory activity in the STN-GP network in disease states may be driven by the cortex; and (3) activity of the STN-GP network is regulated in space in a complex manner.


Journal article


J Neurosci

Publication Date





820 - 833


Action Potentials, Animals, Basal Ganglia, Cerebral Cortex, Electroencephalography, Electrophysiology, Globus Pallidus, Male, Nerve Net, Neurons, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Subthalamic Nucleus