Electrophysiological properties of cat reticular thalamic neurones in vivo

J Physiol. 1993 Oct:470:273-94. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1993.sp019858.


1. The electrophysiological properties of neurones of the reticular thalamic (RE) nucleus were studied in acutely prepared cats under urethane anaesthesia. 2. Two main types of neuronal firing were recorded. At the resting membrane potential (-60 to -65 mV) tonic repetitive firing was elicited when the cell was activated synaptically or by current injection. From membrane potentials more negative than -75 mV, synaptic or direct stimulation generated a burst of action potentials. 3. The burst of RE cells consisted of a discharge of four to eight spikes riding on a slowly growing and decaying depolarization. The discharge rate during the burst showed a characteristic increase, followed by a decrease in frequency. 4. The burst response behaved as a graded phenomenon, as its magnitude was modulated by changing the intensity of the synaptic volley or the intensity of the injected current. 5. Spike-like small potentials presumably of dendritic origin occurred spontaneously and were triggered by synaptic or direct stimulation. They were all-or-none, voltage-dependent events. We postulate that these spikes originate in several hot spots in the dendritic arbor, with no reciprocal refractoriness and may generate multi-component depolarizations at the somatic level. 6. Excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) evoked by internal capsule stimulation consisted of two components, the late one being blocked by hyperpolarization. Such compound EPSPs were followed by a period of decreased excitability during which a second response was diminished in amplitude. 7. A series of depolarizing waves at the frequency range of spindle oscillations was triggered by internal capsule stimulation. The individual depolarizing waves constituting the spindle oscillation gradually decreased in amplitude when decreasing the intensity of the stimulation. 8. These results, showing that RE cells are endowed with an excitable dendritic tree and a graded bursting behaviour, support the proposed role of RE nucleus as the generator and synchronizer of spindle rhythmicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrodes
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / cytology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiology*