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Converging sensory and motor cortical inputs onto the same striatal neurons: An in vivo intracellular investigation

Abstract : The striatum is involved in the completion and optimization of sensorimotor tasks. In rodents, its dorsolateral part receives converging glutamatergic corticostriatal (CS) inputs from whisker-related primary somatosensory (S1) and motor (M1) cortical areas, which are interconnected at the cortical level. Although it has been demonstrated that the medium-spiny neurons (MSNs) from the dorsolateral striatum process sensory information from the whiskers via the S1 CS pathway, the functional impact of the corresponding M1 CS inputs onto the same striatal neurons remained unknown. Here, by combining in vivo S1 electrocorticogram with intracellular recordings from somatosensory MSNs in the rat, we first confirmed the heterogeneity of striatal responsiveness to whisker stimuli, encompassing MSNs responding exclusively by subthreshold synaptic depolarizations, MSNs exhibiting sub- and suprathreshold responses over successive stimulations, and non-responding cells. All recorded MSNs also exhibited clear-cut monosynaptic depolarizing potentials in response to electrical stimulations of the corresponding ipsilateral M1 cortex, which were efficient to fire striatal cells. Since M1-evoked responses in MSNs could result from the intra-cortical recruitment of S1 CS neurons, we performed intracellular recordings of S1 pyramidal neurons and compared their firing latency following M1 stimuli to the latency of striatal synaptic responses. We found that the onset of M1-evoked synaptic responses in MSNs significantly preceded the firing of S1 neurons, demonstrating a direct synaptic excitation of MSNs by M1. However, the firing of MSNs seemed to require the combined excitatory effects of S1 and M1 CS inputs. This study directly demonstrates that the same somatosensory MSNs can process excitatory synaptic inputs from two functionally-related sensory and motor cortical regions converging into the same striatal sector. The effectiveness of these convergent cortical inputs in eliciting action potentials in MSNs may represent a key mechanism of striatum-related sensorimotor behaviors.
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Stéphane Charpier, Morgane Pidoux, Séverine Mahon. Converging sensory and motor cortical inputs onto the same striatal neurons: An in vivo intracellular investigation. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2020, 15 (2), pp.e0228260. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0228260⟩. ⟨inserm-02470550⟩

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