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Keywords:

  • basal ganglia;
  • coherence;
  • local field potentials;
  • somatosensory system

Abstract

The striatum integrates sensory information to enable action selection and behavioural reinforcement. In the rat, a large topographical projection from the rat barrel cortex to widely distributed areas of the striatum is assumed to be an important structural component supporting these processes. The striatal sensory response is, however, not comprehensively understood at a network level. We used a 10-Hz, 100-ms air puff, allowing undamped movement of multiple whiskers, to look at functional connectivity in contralateral cortex and striatum in response to sensory stimulation. Simultaneous recordings of cortical and striatal local field potentials (LFPs) were made under isoflurane anaesthesia in 15 male Brown Norway rats. Four electrodes were placed in the barrel cortex while the dorsolateral striatum was mapped with a 500-μm resolution, resulting in a maximum of 315 recording positions per animal. Significant event-related responses were unevenly distributed throughout the striatum in 34.8% of positions recorded within this area. Only 10.3% of recorded positions displayed significant total power increases in the LFPs during the stimulation period at the stimulus frequency. This suggests that the responses seen in the LFPs are due to phase rearrangement rather than an amplitude increase in the signal. Analysis of corticostriatal imaginary coherence revealed stimulus-induced changes in the functional connectivity of 12% of corticostriatal pairs, the sensory response of sparsely distributed neuronal ensembles within the dorsolateral striatum is reflected in the phase relationship between the cortical and striatal local fields.