Induction of an Isoelectric Brain State to Investigate the Impact of Endogenous Synaptic Activity on Neuronal Excitability In Vivo

J Vis Exp. 2016 Mar 31;(109):e53576. doi: 10.3791/53576.


The way neurons process information depends both on their intrinsic membrane properties and on the dynamics of the afferent synaptic network. In particular, endogenously-generated network activity, which strongly varies as a function of the state of vigilance, significantly modulates neuronal computation. To investigate how different spontaneous cerebral dynamics impact single neurons' integrative properties, we developed a new experimental strategy in the rat consisting in suppressing in vivo all cerebral activity by means of a systemic injection of a high dose of sodium pentobarbital. Cortical activities, continuously monitored by combined electrocorticogram (ECoG) and intracellular recordings are progressively slowed down, leading to a steady isoelectric profile. This extreme brain state, putting the rat into a deep comatose, was carefully monitored by measuring the physiological constants of the animal throughout the experiments. Intracellular recordings allowed us to characterize and compare the integrative properties of the same neuron embedded into physiologically relevant cortical dynamics, such as those encountered in the sleep-wake cycle, and when the brain was fully silent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Models, Animal*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats