The regulation of activity in the subthalamic nucleus (STN) by GABAergic inhibition from the reciprocally connected globus pallidus (GP) plays an important role in normal movement and disorders of movement. To determine the precise manner in which GABAergic synaptic input, acting at A-type receptors, influences the firing of STN neurons, we recorded the response of STN neurons to GABA-A inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs) that were evoked by supramaximal electrical stimulation of the internal capsule using the perforated-patch technique in slices at 37°C. The mean equilibrium potential of the GABA-A IPSP (EGABA-A IPSP) was -79.4 ± 7.0 mV. Single IPSPs disrupted the spontaneous oscillation that underlies rhythmic single-spike firing in STN neurons. As the magnitude of IPSPs increased, the effectiveness of prolonging the interspike interval was related more strongly to the phase of the oscillation at which the IPSP was evoked. Thus the largest IPSPs tended to reset the oscillatory cycle, whereas the smallest IPSPs tended to produce relatively phase-independent delays in firing. Multiple IPSPs were evoked at various frequencies and over different periods and their impact was studied on STN neurons held at different levels of polarization. Multiple IPSPs reduced and/or prevented action potential generation and/or produced sufficient hyperpolarization to activate a rebound depolarization, which generated a single spike or restored rhythmic spiking and/or generated a burst of activity. The pattern of IPSPs and the level of polarization of STN neurons were critical in determining the nature of the response. The duration of bursts varied from 20 ms to several hundred milliseconds, depending on the intrinsic rebound properties of the postsynaptic neuron. These data demonstrate that inhibitory input from the GP can produce a range of firing patterns in STN neurons, depending on the number and frequencies of IPSPs and the membrane properties and voltage of the postsynaptic neuron.
ASJC Scopus subject areas