Anatomically structured burst spiking of thalamic reticular nucleus cells: implications for distinct modulations of sensory processing in lemniscal and non-lemniscal thalamocortical loop circuitries

Akihisa Kimura, Hiroki Imbe
European Journal of Neuroscience 2015, 41 (10): 1276-93
The thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) occupies a highly strategic position to modulate sensory processing in the thalamocortical loop circuitries. It has been shown that TRN visual cells projecting to first- and higher-order thalamic nuclei have distinct levels of burst spiking, suggesting the possibility that the TRN exerts differential influences on information processing in first- and higher-order thalamic nuclei that compose the lemniscal and non-lemniscal sensory systems, respectively. To determine whether this possibility could extend across sensory modalities, the present study examined activities of TRN auditory cells projecting to the ventral and dorsal divisions (first- and higher-order auditory thalamic nuclei) of the medial geniculate nucleus (TRN-MGV and TRN-MGD cells) in anesthetized rats, using juxta-cellular recording and labeling techniques. Burst spiking of TRN-MGV cells consisted of larger numbers of spikes with shorter inter-spike intervals as compared with that of TRN-MGD cells in auditory response evoked by noise burst stimuli. Similar distinctions, although not statistically significant, were observed in spontaneous activity. Furthermore, the features of burst spiking varied in association with the topographies of cell body and terminal field locations. These features of burst spiking are similar to those observed in the two types of TRN visual cells. First- and higher-order thalamic nuclei are known to have distinct levels of burst spiking across sensory modalities. Taken together, it is suggested that the distinctions in burst spiking in the TRN, in conjunction with those in thalamic nuclei, could constitute distinct circuitries for lemniscal and non-lemniscal sensory processing in the thalamocortical loop.

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