• amino acids;
  • basal forebrain;
  • electrophysiology;
  • neuromodulation


Microiontophoresis was used to investigate the influence of dopamine on GABA- and glutamate-induced responses from ventral pallidal neurons recorded extracellularly in chloral hydrate-anaesthetized rats. Modulation was determined by comparing dopamine-induced alterations in amino acid-induced activity (‘signal’) with dopamine-induced effects on spontaneous firing (‘noise’). A dopamine ejection current-response curve was generated to determine the current levels that did not alter spontaneous firing (‘subthreshold’) and those that produced ∼50% of the maximal dopamine-induced response (ECur50). Co-iontophoresis of dopamine with GABA generally diminished the inhibitory influence of GABA on pallidal neuron firing; 70% of neurons tested with ECur50 dopamine demonstrated a decrease in the signal-to-noise ratio whereas 10% displayed an increase. At subthreshold dopamine ejection currents, 59% of neurons responded with a decrease and 18% responded with an increase in the GABA signal-to-noise ratio. When ECur50 dopamine was co-iontophoresed with glutamate, 84% of the neurons displayed a decrease in the signal-to-noise ratio for glutamate-evoked excitations whereas 11% demonstrated an increase. Subthreshold dopamine ejection currents decreased the signal-to-noise ratio in 62% of the ventral pallidal neurons excited by glutamate and increased the ratio in 23%. These data illustrate that dopamine substantially alters GABA- and glutamate-evoked responses even at ejection currents that are below those necessary to change spontaneous firing. Thus, it appears that neuromodulation is an important means by which dopamine influences ventral pallidal neuronal activity.