Striatal spiny neurons (SPNs) associate a diverse array of cortically processed information to regulate action selection. But how this is done by SPNs is poorly understood. A key step in this process is the transition of SPNs from a hyperpolarized 'down state' to a sustained, depolarized 'up state'. These transitions are thought to reflect a sustained synaptic barrage, involving the coordination of hundreds of pyramidal neurons. Indeed, in mice, simulation of cortical input by glutamate uncaging on proximal dendritic spines produced potential changes in SPNs that tracked input time course. However, brief glutamate uncaging at spines on distal dendrites evoked somatic up states lasting hundreds of milliseconds. These regenerative events depended upon both NMDA receptors and voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels. Moreover, they were bidirectionally regulated by dopamine receptor signaling. This capacity not only changes our model of how up states are generated in SPNs, it also has fundamental implications for the associative process underlying action selection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas