The cortically evoked secondary depolarization affects the integrative properties of thalamic reticular neurons


Dr M. Steriade, as above.


Corticothalamic terminals on thalamic reticular (RE) neurons account for most synapses from afferent pathways onto this nucleus and these inputs are more powerful than those from axon collaterals of thalamocortical neurons. Given the supremacy of cortical inputs, we analysed here the characteristics and possible mechanisms underlying a secondary component of the cortically elicited depolarization in RE neurons, recorded in cats under barbiturate anesthesia. Electrical stimulation of corticothalamic axons in the internal capsule evoked fixed and short-latency excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) that, by increasing stimulation intensity and at hyperpolarized levels (< −70 mV), developed into low-threshold spikes and spindle oscillations. The threshold for spindle oscillations was 60% higher than that required for evoking minimal EPSPs. The evoked EPSPs included a secondary depolarizing component, which appeared ∼ 5 ms after the peak of the initial component and was voltage dependent, i.e. most prominent between −70 mV and −85 mV, while being greatly reduced or absent at more hyperpolarized levels. The secondary depolarizing component was sensitive to QX-314 in the recording micropipette. We suggest that the secondary component of cortically evoked EPSPs in RE neurons is due to the dendritic activation of T-currents, with a probable contribution of the persistent Na+ current. This late component affected the integrative properties of RE neurons, including their spiking output and temporal summation of incoming cortical inputs.