A low threshold calcium spike mediates firing pattern alterations in pontine reticular neurons

Science  07 Nov 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4777, pp. 738-740
DOI: 10.1126/science.3775364


Intracellular electrical recordings in an in vitro slice preparation of the brainstem medial pontine reticular formation, a region thought to be important in mediation of desynchronized sleep phenomena, demonstrate a population of neurons that have a calcium-dependent, low threshold spike. This low threshold spike was inactivated at relatively depolarized membrane potential levels and, when this spike was deinactivated, it induced a burst of action potentials. The membrane potential dependence of the spike may underlie changes in action potential firing patterns associated with behavioral state change because the baseline membrane potential in neurons of the medial pontine reticular population depolarizes during passage from waking and slow wave sleep to desynchronized sleep, which is characterized by the absence of burst firing.