Activity patterns in a model for the subthalamopallidal network of the basal ganglia

J Neurosci. 2002 Apr 1;22(7):2963-76. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.22-07-02963.2002.


Based on recent experimental data, we have developed a conductance-based computational network model of the subthalamic nucleus and the external segment of the globus pallidus in the indirect pathway of the basal ganglia. Computer simulations and analysis of this model illuminate the roles of the coupling architecture of the network, and associated synaptic conductances, in modulating the activity patterns displayed by this network. Depending on the relationships of these coupling parameters, the network can support three general classes of sustained firing patterns: clustering, propagating waves, and repetitive spiking that may show little regularity or correlation. Each activity pattern can occur continuously or in discrete episodes. We characterize the mechanisms underlying these rhythms, as well as the influence of parameters on details such as spiking frequency and wave speed. These results suggest that the subthalamopallidal circuit is capable both of correlated rhythmic activity and of irregular autonomous patterns of activity that block rhythmicity. Increased striatal input to, and weakened intrapallidal inhibition within, the indirect pathway can switch the behavior of the circuit from irregular to rhythmic. This may be sufficient to explain the emergence of correlated oscillatory activity in the subthalamopallidal circuit after destruction of dopaminergic neurons in Parkinson's disease and in animal models of parkinsonism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology*
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Globus Pallidus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Parkinson Disease / etiology
  • Periodicity
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology