The role of oscillation population activity in cortico-basal ganglia circuits
The basal ganglia (BG) are a group of subcortical brain nuclei that are anatomically situated between the cortex and thalamus. Hitherto, models of basal ganglia function have been based solely on the anatomical connectivity and changes in the rate of neurons mediated by inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitter interactions and modulated by dopamine. Depletion of striatal dopamine as occurs in Parkinson's Disease (PD) however, leads primarily to changes in the rhythmicity of basal ganglia neurons. The general aim of this thesis is to use frontal electrocorticogram (ECoG) and basal ganglia local field potential (LFP) recordings in the rat to further investigate the putative role for oscillations and synchronisation in these structures in the healthy and dopamine depleted brain. In the awake animal, lesion of the SNc lead to a dramatic increase in the power and synchronisation of P-frequency band oscillations in the cortex and subthalamic nucleus (STN) compared to the sham lesioned animal. These results are highly similar to those in human patients and provide further evidence for a direct pathophysological role for p-frequency band oscillations in PD. In the healthy, anaesthetised animal, LFPs recorded in the STN, globus pallidus (GP) and substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) were all found to be coherent with the ECoG. A detailed analysis of the interdependence and direction of these activities during two different brain states, prominent slow wave activity (SWA) and global activation, lead to the hypothesis that there were state dependant changes in the dominance of the cortico-subthalamic and cortico-striatal pathways. Multiple LFP recordings in the striatum and GP provided further evidence for this hypothesis, as coherence between the ECoG and GP was found to be dependent on the striatum. Together these results suggest that oscillations and synchronisation may mediate information flow in cortico-basal ganglia networks in both health and disease.