Autonomous pacemakers are crucial elements in many neural circuits. This is particularly true for the basal ganglia. This richly interconnected group of nuclei is rife with both fast- and slow-spiking pacemakers. Our understanding of the ionic mechanisms underlying pacemaking in these neurons is rapidly evolving, yielding new insights into the normal functioning of this network and how it goes awry in pathological states such as Parkinson's disease.
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