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Non-cholinergic basal forebrain activity and cortical event-related potentials are coupled in time and amplitude

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 — Poster Session IV

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Natcher Conference Center




  • D Nguyen
  • M Nicolelis
  • S Lin


Event-related potentials (ERPs) are powerful tools for neurobiological inference, not only for the established relationships between task parameters and ERP components, but also because the neural circuits that generate ERPs are potentially the circuits that underlie higher order cognitive functions. We investigated the novel hypothesis that attention-related cortical ERPs may be gated by a subcortical mechanism: ensemble bursting of non-cholinergic basal forebrain (BF) neurons. We tested the key prediction that orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) ERPs triggered by sensory stimuli should be correlated with BF bursting responses by simultaneously recording BF neuronal ensemble activity and layer-specific LFP profiles in the OFC while rats performed an oddball task. We show here that 1) the onset of BF bursting responses are time-locked with the onset of an OFC ERP component, 2) stimulus specific variations in ERP amplitude and BF bursting strength are significantly correlated, and 3) the BF-coupled OFC ERP shows a characteristic layer-specific distribution, consistent with a local cortical origin. These preliminary findings support the idea that non-cholinergic BF neurons may gate the generation of an attention-related cortical ERP, thus translating the motivational salience signal into fast modulation of cortical neuronal excitability.

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