Burst Spiking of a Single Cortical Neuron Modifies Global Brain State

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Science  01 May 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5927, pp. 643-646
DOI: 10.1126/science.1169957

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Different global patterns of brain activity are associated with distinct arousal and behavioral states of an animal, but how the brain rapidly switches between different states remains unclear. We here report that repetitive high-frequency burst spiking of a single rat cortical neuron could trigger a switch between the cortical states resembling slow-wave and rapid–eye-movement sleep. This is reflected in the switching of the membrane potential of the stimulated neuron from slow UP/DOWN oscillations to a persistent-UP state or vice versa, with concurrent changes in the temporal pattern of cortical local field potential (LFP) recorded several millimeters away. These results point to the power of single cortical neurons in modulating the behavioral state of an animal.

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