Switching between "On" and "Off" states of persistent activity in lateral entorhinal layer III neurons

Hippocampus. 2007;17(4):257-63. doi: 10.1002/hipo.20270.


Persistent neural spiking maintains information during a working memory task when a stimulus is no longer present. During retention, this activity needs to be stable to distractors. More importantly, when retention is no longer relevant, cessation of the activity is necessary to enable processing and retention of subsequent information. Here, by means of intracellular recording with sharp microelectrode in in vitro rat brain slices, we demonstrate that single principal layer III neurons of the lateral entorhinal cortex (EC) generate persistent spiking activity with a novel ability to reliably toggle between spiking activity and a silent state. Our data indicates that in the presence of muscarinic receptor activation, persistent activity following an excitatory input may be induced and that a subsequent excitatory input can terminate this activity and cause the neuron to return to a silent state. Moreover, application of inhibitory hyperpolarizing stimuli is neither able to decrease the frequency of the persistent activity nor terminate it. The persistent activity can also be initiated and terminated by synchronized synaptic stimuli of layer II/III of the perirhinal cortex. The neuronal ability to switch "On" and "Off" persistent activity may facilitate the concurrent representation of temporally segregated information arriving in the EC and being directed toward the hippocampus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Atropine / pharmacology
  • Carbachol / pharmacology
  • Cholinergic Agonists / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Male
  • Membrane Potentials / drug effects
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology*
  • Muscarinic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Periodicity*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Time Factors


  • Cholinergic Agonists
  • Muscarinic Antagonists
  • Atropine
  • Carbachol