Thalamocortical Up states: differential effects of intrinsic and extrinsic cortical inputs on persistent activity

J Neurosci. 2007 Apr 18;27(16):4261-72. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0003-07.2007.


During behavioral quiescence, the neocortex generates spontaneous slow oscillations that consist of Up and Down states. Up states are short epochs of persistent activity that resemble the activated neocortex during arousal and cognition. Although Up states are generated within the cortex, the impact of extrinsic (thalamocortical) and intrinsic (intracortical) inputs on the persistent activity is not known. Using thalamocortical slices, we found that the persistent cortical activity during spontaneous Up states effectively drives thalamocortical relay cells through corticothalamic connections. However, thalamic activity can also precede the onset of cortical Up states, which suggests a role of thalamic activity in triggering cortical Up states through thalamocortical connections. In support of this hypothesis, we found that cutting the connections between thalamus and cortex reduced the incidence of spontaneous Up states in the cortex. Consistent with a facilitating role of thalamic activity on Up states, electrical or chemical stimulation of the thalamus triggered cortical Up states very effectively and enhanced those occurring spontaneously. In contrast, stimulation of the cortex triggered Up states only at very low intensities but otherwise had a suppressive effect on Up states. Moreover, cortical stimulation suppressed the facilitating effect of thalamic stimulation on Up states. In conclusion, thalamocortical inputs facilitate and intracortical inputs suppress cortical Up states. Thus, extrinsic and intrinsic cortical inputs differentially regulate persistent activity, which may serve to adjust the processing state of thalamocortical networks during behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Arousal / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Thalamus / physiology*