Synaptic organization and input-specific short-term plasticity in anterior cingulate cortical neurons with intact thalamic inputs

Authors


Dr B.-C. Shyu, as above.
E-mail: bmbai@gate.sinica.edu.tw

Abstract

The absence of a slice preparation with intact thalamocortical pathways has held back elucidation of the cellular and synaptic mechanisms by which thalamic signals are differentially transmitted to and processed in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). In this report we introduce an innovative mouse brain slice preparation in which it is possible to explore the electrophysiological properties of ACC neurons with intact long-distance inputs from medial thalamic (MT) nuclei by intracellular recordings; this MT–ACC neuronal pathway plays an integral role in information transmission. Biocytin-labeled fibers in a functional slice could be traced anterogradely or retrogradely from the MT via the reticular thalamic nuclei, striatum and corpus callosum to the cingulate cortical areas. Eighty-seven cells downstream of the thalamic projections in 49 slices were recorded intracellularly. Intracellular recordings in the ACC showed that thalamocingulate transmission involves both α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA)/kainate and N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) subtypes of glutamate receptors. Thalamus-evoked responses recorded extracellularly in the ACC were activated and progressed along a deep–superficial–deep trajectory loop across the ACC layers. We observed enhanced paired-pulse facilitation and tetanic potentiation of thalamocingulate synapses, suggestive of input-specific ACC plasticity and selective processing of information relayed by thalamocingulate pathways. Furthermore, we observed differential responses of ACC neurons to thalamic burst stimulation, which underscores the importance of MT afferents in relaying sensory information to the ACC. This new slice preparation enables the contribution of MT-evoked ACC synaptic transmission to short-term plasticity in the neuronal circuitry underlying sensory information processing to be examined in detail.

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