In vitro neurons in mammalian cortical layer 4 exhibit intrinsic oscillatory activity in the 10- to 50-Hz frequency range. Academic Article uri icon


  • We report here the presence of fast subthreshold oscillatory potentials recorded in vitro from neurons within layer 4 of the guinea pig frontal cortex. Two types of oscillatory neurons were recorded: (i) One type exhibited subthreshold oscillations whose frequency increased with membrane depolarization and encompassed a range of 10-45 Hz. Action potentials in this type of neuron demonstrated clear after-hyperpolarizations. (ii) The second type of neuron was characterized by narrow-frequency oscillations near 35-50 Hz. These oscillations often outlasted the initiating depolarizing stimulus. No calcium component could be identified in their action potential. In both types of cell the subthreshold oscillations were tetrodotoxin-sensitive, indicating that the depolarizing phase of the oscillation was generated by a voltage-dependent sodium conductance. The initial depolarizing phase was followed by a potassium conductance responsible for the falling phase of the oscillatory wave. In both types of cell, the subthreshold oscillation could trigger spikes at the oscillatory frequency, if the membrane was sufficiently depolarized. Combining intracellular recordings with Lucifer yellow staining showed that the narrow-frequency oscillatory activity was produced by a sparsely spinous interneuron located in layer 4 of the cortex. This neuron has extensive local axonal collaterals that ramify in layers 3 and 4 such that they may contribute to the columnar synchronization of activity in the 40- to 50-Hz range. Cortical activity in this frequency range has been proposed as the basis for the "conjunctive properties" of central nervous system networks.

publication date

  • February 1, 1991