The GABAergic agonist muscimol is used to inactivate brain regions in order to reveal afferent inputs in isolation. However, muscimol's use in primary auditory cortex (A1) has been questioned on the grounds that it may unintentionally suppress thalamocortical inputs. We tested whether muscimol can preferentially suppress cortical, but not thalamocortical, circuits in urethane-anesthetized mice. We recorded tone-evoked current source density profiles to determine frequency receptive fields (RFs) for three current sinks: the “layer 4” sink (fastest onset, middle-layer sink) and current sinks 100 μm above (“layer 2/3”) and 300 μm below (“layer 5/6”) the main input. We first determined effects of muscimol dose (0.01–1 mM) on the characteristic frequency (CF) tone-evoked layer 4 sink. An “ideal” dose (100 μM) had no effect on CF-evoked sink onset latency or initial response but reduced peak amplitude by >80%, implying inhibition of intracortical, but not thalamocortical, activity. We extended the analysis to current sinks in layers 2/3 and 5/6 and for all three sinks determined RF breadth (quarter-octave steps, 20 dB above CF threshold). Muscimol reduced RF breadth 42% in layer 2/3 (from 2.4 ± 0.14 to 1.4 ± 0.11 octaves), 14% in layer 4 (2.2 ± 0.12 to 1.9 ± 0.10 octaves), and not at all in layer 5/6 (1.8 ± 0.10 to 1.7 ± 0.12 octaves). The results provide an estimate of the laminar and spectral extent of thalamocortical projections and support the hypothesis that intracortical pathways contribute to spectral integration in A1.
- auditory cortex
- current source density
- thalamocortical input
- Copyright © 2016 the American Physiological Society
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