The subthalamic nucleus (STN) receives monosynaptic glutamatergic afferents from different areas of the cortex, known as the “hyperdirect” pathway. The STN has been divided into three distinct subdivisions, motor, limbic, and associative parts in line with the concept of parallel information processing. The extent to which the parallel information processing coming from distinct cortical areas overlaps in the different territories of the STN is still a matter of debate and the proposed role of dopaminergic neurons in maintaining the coherence of responses to cortical inputs in each territory is not documented. Using extracellular electrophysiological approaches, we investigated to what degree the motor and non-motor regions in the STN are segregated in control and dopamine (DA) depleted rats. We performed electrical stimulation of different cortical areas and recorded STN neuronal responses. We showed that motor and non-motor cortico-subthalamic pathways are not fully segregated, but partially integrated in the rat. This integration was mostly present through the indirect pathway. The spatial distribution and response latencies were the same in sham and 6-hydroxydopamine lesioned animals. The inhibitory phase was, however, less apparent in the lesioned animals. In conclusion, this study provides the first evidence that motor and non-motor cortico-subthalamic pathways in the rat are not fully segregated, but partially integrated. This integration was mostly present through the indirect pathway. We also show that the inhibitory phase induced by GABAergic inputs from the external segment of the globus pallidus is reduced in the DA-depleted animals.
- Subthalamic nucleus
- Cortico-subthalamic hyperdirect pathway
- Motor cortex
- Associative and limbic cortices
- Parkinson’s disease