Synchronization properties of spindle oscillations in a thalamic reticular nucleus model Academic Article uri icon


  • 1. We address the hypothesis of Steriade and colleagues that the thalamic reticular nucleus (RE) is a pacemaker for thalamocortical spindle oscillations by developing and analyzing a model of a large population of all-to-all coupled inhibitory RE neurons. 2. Each RE neuron has three ionic currents: a low-threshold T-type Ca2+ current (ICa-T), a calcium-activated potassium current (IAHP) and a leakage current (IL). ICa-T underlies a cell's postinhibitory rebound properties, whereas IAHP hyperpolarizes the neuron after a burst. Each neuron, which is a conditional oscillator, is coupled to all other RE neurons via fast gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABAA) and slow GABAB synapses. 3. For generating network oscillations IAHP may not be necessary. Synaptic inhibition can provide the hyperpolarization for deinactivating ICa-T that causes bursting if the reversal potentials for GABAA and GABAB synapses are sufficiently negative. 4. If model neurons display sufficiently powerful rebound excitability, an isolated RE network of such neurons oscillates with partial but typically not full synchrony. The neurons spontaneously segregate themselves into several macroscopic clusters. The neurons within a cluster follow the same time course, but the clusters oscillate differently from one another. In addition to activity patterns in which clusters burst sequentially (e.g., 2 or 3 clusters bursting alternately), a two-cluster state may occur with one cluster active and one quiescent. Because the neurons are all-to-all coupled, the cluster states do not have any spatial structure. 5. We have explored the sensitivity of such partially synchronized patterns to heterogeneity in cells' intrinsic properties and to simulated neuroelectric noise. Although either precludes precise clustering, modest levels of heterogeneity or noise lead to approximate clustering of active cells. The population-averaged voltage may oscillate almost regularly but individual cells burst at nearly every second cycle or less frequently. The active-quiescent state is not robust at all to heterogeneity or noise. Total asynchrony is observed when heterogeneity or noise is too large, e.g., even at 25% heterogeneity for our reference set of parameter values. 6. The fast GABAA inhibition (with a reversal potential more negative than, say, -65 mV) favors the cluster states and prevents full synchrony. Our simulation results suggest two mechanisms that can fully synchronize the isolated RE network model. With GABAA removed or almost totally blocked, GABAB inhibition (because it is slow) can lead to full synchrony, which is partially robust to heterogeneity and noise.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

publication date

  • January 1, 1994