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Population activity in cortico-basal ganglia circuits is synchronized at different frequencies according to brain state. However, the structures that are likely to drive the synchronization of activity in these circuits remain unclear. Furthermore, it is not known whether the direction of transmission of activity is fixed or dependent on brain state. We have used the directed transfer function (DTF) to investigate the direction in which coherent activity is effectively driven in cortico-basal ganglia circuits. Local field potentials (LFPs) were simultaneously recorded in the subthalamic nucleus (STN), globus pallidus (GP) and substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr), together with the ipsilateral frontal electrocorticogram (ECoG) of anaesthetized rats. Directional analysis was performed on recordings made during robust cortical slow-wave activity (SWA) and "global activation". During SWA, there was coherence at approximately 1 Hz between ECoG and basal ganglia LFPs, with much of the coherent activity directed from cortex to basal ganglia. There were similar coherent activities at approximately 1 Hz within the basal ganglia, with more activity directed from SNr to GP and STN, and from STN to GP rather than vice versa. During global activation, peaks in coherent activity were seen at higher frequencies (15-60 Hz), with most coherence also directed from cortex to basal ganglia. Within the basal ganglia, however, coherence was predominantly directed from GP to STN and SNr. Together, these results highlight a lead role for the cortex in activity relationships with the basal ganglia, and further suggest that the effective direction of coupling between basal ganglia nuclei is dynamically organized according to brain state, with activity relationships involving the GP displaying the greatest capacity to change.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





951 - 963


Action Potentials, Animals, Basal Ganglia, Biological Clocks, Brain Mapping, Cerebral Cortex, Electroencephalography, Evoked Potentials, Somatosensory, Male, Neural Pathways, Rats, Rats, Sprague-Dawley, Statistics as Topic