Bursting activation of prefrontal cortex drives sustained up states in nucleus accumbens spiny neurons in vivo


Hippocampal inputs to the nucleus accumbens (NA) have been proposed to implement a gating mechanism by driving NA medium spiny neurons (MSNs) to depolarized up states that facilitate action potential firing in response to brief activation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Brief PFC stimulation alone, on the other hand, could not drive NA up states. As these studies were conducted using single-pulse PFC stimulation, it remains possible that PFC activation with naturalistic, bursty patterns can also drive up states in NA MSNs. Here, we assessed NA responses to PFC stimulation with a pattern similar to what is typically observed in awake animals during PFC-relevant behaviors. In vivo intracellular recordings from NA MSNs revealed that brief 20-50 Hz PFC stimulus trains evoked depolarizations that were similar to spontaneous up states in NA MSNs and were sustained beyond stimulus offset. Similar train stimulation of corticoaccumbens afferents in a parasagittal slice preparation evoked large amplitude depolarizations in NA MSNs that were sustained during stimulation but decayed rapidly following stimulation offset, suggesting that activation of cortical afferents can drive MSN depolarizations but other mechanisms may contribute to sustaining up states. These data suggest that NA MSNs integrate temporal features of PFC activation and that the NA gating model can be reformulated to include a PFC-driven gating mechanism during periods of high PFC firing, such as during cognitively demanding tasks. Synapse 63:173-180, 2009. (c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Gruber, Aaron JO'Donnell, PatricioMH 60131/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United StatesR01 MH060131-07/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United StatesIn VitroResearch Support, N.I.H., ExtramuralResearch Support, Non-U.S. Gov'tUnited StatesSynapse (New York, N.Y.)Synapse. 2009 Mar;63(3):173-80. doi: 10.1002/syn.20593.