Modulation of neuronal network activity in the primary motor cortex

  • Emma Prokic

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the present study I investigated the mechanisms of modulation of neuronal network activity in rat primary motor cortex using pharmacological manipulations employing the in vitro brain slice technique. Preparation of the brain slice in sucrose-based aCSF produced slices with low viability. Introducing the neuroprotectants N-acetyl-cysteine, taurine and aminoguanidine to the preparatory method saw viability of slices increase significantly. Co-application of low dose kainic acid and carbachol consistently generated beta oscillatory activity in M1. Analyses indicated that network activity in M1 relied on the involvement of GABAA receptors.
Dose-response experiments performed in M1 showed that beta activity can be modulated by benzodiazepine site ligands. Low doses of positive allosteric modulators consistently desynchronised beta oscillatory activity, a mechanism that may be driven by a1-subunit containing GABAA receptors. Higher doses increased the power of beta oscillatory activity.
Whole-cell recordings in M1 uncovered three interneuronal subtypes regularly encountered in M1; Fast-spiking, regular-spiking non-Pyramidal and low threshold spiking. With the paradoxical effects of positive allosteric modulators in mind, subsequent voltage-clamp recordings in FS cells revealed a constitutively active tonic inhibitory current that could be modulated by zolpidem in two different ways. Low dose zolpidem increased the tonic inhibitory current in FS cells, consistent with the desynchronisation of network oscillatory activity seen at this concentration. High dose zolpidem decreased the inhibitory tonic current seen in FS cells, coinciding with an increase in oscillatory power.
These studies indicate a fundamental role for a tonic inhibitory current in the modulation of network activity. Furthermore, desynchronisation of beta activity in M1 decreased as viability of the in vitro brain slice increased, suggesting that the extent of desynchronisation is dependent upon the pathophysiological state of the network. This indicates that low dose zolpidem could be used as a therapeutic agent specifically for the desynchronisation of pathological oscillations in oscillopathies such as Parkinson’s disease.
Date of Award2 Mar 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGavin L Woodhall (Supervisor) & Ian M Stanford (Supervisor)


  • Oscillations
  • interneurones
  • zolpidem
  • tonic inhibitory current

Cite this