The brain exhibits distinct patterns of recurrent activity closely related to behavioral state. The neural mechanisms that underlie state-dependent activity in the awake animal are incompletely understood. Here, we demonstrate that two types of state-dependent activity, rapid arousal/movement-related signals and a 3-5 Hz alpha-like rhythm, in the primary visual cortex (V1) of mice strongly correlate with activity in the visual thalamus. Inactivation of V1 does not interrupt arousal/movement signals in most visual thalamic neurons, but it abolishes the 3-5 Hz oscillation. Silencing of the visual thalamus similarly eradicates the alpha-like rhythm and perturbs arousal/movement-related activation in V1. Intracellular recordings in thalamic neurons reveal the 3-5 Hz oscillation to be associated with rhythmic low-threshold Ca2+ spikes. Our results indicate that thalamocortical interactions through ionotropic signaling, together with cell-intrinsic properties of thalamocortical cells, play a crucial role in shaping state-dependent activity in V1 of the awake animal.
Keywords: alpha oscillation; arousal; brain state; movement; primary visual cortex; thalamus.
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