Oscillatory synaptic interactions between ventroposterior and reticular neurons in mouse thalamus in vitro

J Neurophysiol. 1994 Oct;72(4):1993-2003. doi: 10.1152/jn.1994.72.4.1993.


1. The thalamic reticular nucleus (RTN) has reciprocal connections with relay neurons in the dorsal thalamus. We used whole cell recording in a mouse in vitro slice preparation maintained at room temperature to study the synaptic interactions between the RTN and the ventroposterior thalamic nucleus (VP) during evoked low-frequency oscillations. 2. After a single electrical stimulus of the internal capsule, postsynaptic potentials (PSPs) were recorded in all VP and RTN neurons. In 76% of slices, there was an initial response followed by recurrent PSPs lasting for up to 8 s and with a frequency of approximately 2 Hz in both the VP and RTN. 3. In RTN neurons the initial response consisted of a fast excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) that generated a burst of action potentials. Recurrent PSPs consisted of barrages of EPSPs that often reached burst threshold. The structure of subthreshold EPSP barrages in RTN neurons suggested that they were generated by bursting VP neurons. 4. In VP neurons the stimulus usually evoked a small EPSP followed by a large inhibitory postsynaptic potential (IPSP) that was often followed by a rebound burst. This initial response was often followed by a series of recurrent IPSPs presumably generated by RTN bursts, because intrinsic inhibitory neurons are absent in rodent VP. 5. IPSPs in VP neurons and recurrent EPSPs in RTN neurons were completely abolished by application of a gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABAA) receptor antagonist. A GABAB receptor antagonist produced no or little change in either the initial or recurrent response. 6. Recurrent IPSPs in VP neurons were abolished by glutamate receptor antagonists before the initial IPSP, which always remained stimulus dependent. 7. The dependency of recurring IPSPs in VP and recurring EPSPs in RTN upon GABA-mediated inhibition and excitatory amino acid-mediated excitation, plus the character of recurring EPSPs in the RTN strongly suggest that the recurring events were generated through reverse-reciprocal synaptic interactions between VP and RTN neurons. These synaptic interactions most likely play an important role in thalamic oscillations in behavior.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Receptors, Glutamate / physiology
  • Sleep Stages / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*


  • Receptors, Glutamate