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Unitary IPSPs drive precise thalamic spiking in a circuit required for learning

TitleUnitary IPSPs drive precise thalamic spiking in a circuit required for learning
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsPerson AL, Perkel DJ
Date Published2005
ISBN Number0896-6273 (Print)0896-6273 (Linking)
KeywordsAnimals, Male, gamma-Aminobutyric Acid/metabolism, Learning/*physiology, Neural Pathways/anatomy & histology, Neurons/*physiology, Organ Culture Techniques, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Songbirds/*physiology, Thalamus/*physiology, Washington

Song learning in birds requires a basal ganglia-thalamo-pallial loop that contains a calyceal GABAergic synapse in the thalamus. Information processing within this circuit is critical for proper song development; however, it is unclear whether activation of the inhibitory output of the basal ganglia structure Area X can drive sustained activity in its thalamic target, the medial portion of the dorsolateral thalamic nucleus (DLM). We show that high-frequency, random activation of this GABAergic synapse can drive precisely timed firing in DLM neurons in brain slices in the absence of excitatory input. Complex IPSP trains, including spike trains recorded in vivo, drive spiking in slices with high reproducibility, even between animals. Using a simple model, we can predict much of DLM's response to natural stimulus trains. These data elucidate basic rules by which thalamic relay neurons translate IPSPs into suprathreshold output and demonstrate extrathalamic GABAergic activation of thalamus.