Minlebaev M - Ben-Ari Y - Khazipov R
Journal of neurophysiology
Early in development, cortical networks generate particular patterns of activity that participate in cortical development. The dominant pattern of electrical activity in the neonatal rat neocortex in vivo is a spatially confined spindle-burst. Here, we studied network mechanisms of generation of spindle-bursts in the barrel cortex of neonatal rats using a superfused cortex preparation in vivo. Both spontaneous and sensory-evoked spindle-bursts were present in the superfused barrel cortex. Pharmacological analysis revealed that spindle-bursts are driven by glutamatergic synapses with a major contribution of AMPA/kainate receptors, but slight participation of NMDA receptors and gap junctions. Although GABAergic synapses contributed minimally to the pacing the rhythm of spindle-burst oscillations, surround GABAergic inhibition appeared to be crucial for their compartmentalization. We propose that local spindle-burst oscillations, driven by glutamatergic synapses and spatially confined by GABAergic synapses, contribute to the development of barrel cortex during the critical period of developmental plasticity.