Neuronal activity in the medial associative-limbic and lateral motor part of the rat subthalamic nucleus and the effect of 6-hydroxydopamine-induced lesions of the dorsolateral striatum


Correspondence to: C. Lindemann, Department of Physiology, University of Otago, 270 Great King Street, Dunedin 9010, New Zealand. E-mail:


Lesions of the rat nigrostriatal dopamine system by injection of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lead to abnormal neuronal activity in the basal ganglia (BG) motor loop similar to that found in Parkinson's disease (PD). In the BG motor loop the subthalamic nucleus (STN) represents an important structure, which, however, also comprises areas of the BG associative and limbic loops. We were interested whether neuronal activity would differ between the STN medial associative-limbic and lateral motor part, and whether selective 6-OHDA-induced lesions of the dorsolateral striatum, the entrance region of the BG motor loop, would differently affect these subregions. In male Sprague–Dawley rats 6-OHDA (n = 12) or vehicle (n = 10) was bilaterally injected in the dorsolateral striatum. Four weeks later extracellular single-unit activity and local field potentials were recorded in medial and lateral STN neurons of urethane-anesthetized rats. In sham-lesioned rats the discharge rate and burst activity were higher in the lateral compared to the medial STN. Similar differences were found for other neuronal activity measures (coefficient of variation of interspike interval, skewness, kurtosis, approximate entropy). After 6-OHDA injection neuronal burst activity was enhanced, while the discharge rate was not affected. In addition, in 6-OHDA-lesioned rats β-band oscillatory activity was enhanced, with no difference between STN subregions. We found important differences of neuronal activity between STN subregions, indicating functional segregation. However, selective 6-OHDA lesions of the dorsolateral striatum also had a pronounced effect on the medial STN subregion, indicating interaction between BG loops. J. Comp. Neurol. 521:3226–3240, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.