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This study compares the temporal pattern of discharges of extracellularly recorded substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) single units in two experimental conditions: Equithesin- and ketamine-induced anesthesia. The analysis of the statistical properties of the spike trains recorded in the Equithesin group of animals showed that this experimental condition could be considered as a control condition with respect to previous data reported in the literature. We investigated the glutamatergic modulation of SNr activity at spike train level in a steady-state condition by using the anesthetic agent ketamine, which is a noncompetitive antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamatergic receptors. The most relevant effect of ketamine at single unit level was to induce burst discharges, with an intraburst frequency rate near 50 Hz, specifically in units characterized by an initial long refractoriness in the Equithesin condition. The other classes of single units tended to discharge at a higher rate without any significant change in their temporal pattern of firing. Simultaneous recording of the spike trains of 108 SNr pairs (46 and 62 during Equithesin and ketamine condition, respectively) were equally distributed between pairs of units simultaneously recorded from the same electrode and from distinct electrodes at a distance up to 400 microm in the same hemisphere. Ketamine induced a significant increase in the number of pairs with synchronous firing (from 4 to 49%), which was strongly, but not exclusively, associated with an increased tendency to fire in bursts. Neighboring cells tended to fire with a similar pattern in either condition of recording, whereas synchronous firing between distant cells was observed only during ketamine condition.


Journal article


Brain Res Bull. 1997;43(6):525-35.